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Carved Olive-stone Boat

Tags: boat | National Palace Museum | olive


Ch'en Tsu-chang, Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Height: 1.6 cm, length: 3.4 cm 
Ch'en Tsu-chang, originally from Kwangtung, had already entered the Imperial Bureau of Manufacture in the Yung-cheng reign (1723-1735). In 1737, he followed the natural shape of an olive pit to carve a small boat. On the boat are eight figures, each of which is animated and expressive in an individual manner. What is most fascinating is that the entire text of Su Shih's "Latter Ode on the Red Cliff", including more than 300 characters and upon which this work is based, is engraved with exquisite detail on the bottom of the boat, testifying to the heavenly craftsmanship of the artist.

Text: Yu P'ei-chin

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum