Two Guanyins

David Leffman Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Another print from early 1930s Shanghai courtesy of Reverend Hallock, this time of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Guanyin. She’s shown in two simultaneous incarnations: the Bringer of Children, and riding the Aoyu, that fish-like sea monster at the bottom of the print. Although the Aoyu aspect represents Guanyin subduing evil in general terms, at Shanghai and coastal eastern China this …

Pan Gu: Humans from Parasites

David Leffman Uncategorized 1 Comment

A while back I posted about the Reverend Henry Galloway Comingo Hallock, who in the late 1920s sent stacks of woodblock prints of Chinese gods, bought in Shanghai, back to the US, along with letters describing the deities and seeking funds for his various Church-led causes. I’ve picked these prints up here and there but recently received a cache of …

Applying Clan Law to Demons: Zhou Han and Griffith John

David Leffman woodblock, Woodblock print 1 Comment

Here’s a Chinese print apparently illustrating a typical nineteenth-century court scene. Flanked by two rows of officials, a magistrate and his staff sit behind a desk judging criminal cases, while out in front the court police dole out beatings and other punishments to encourage suspects to confess. A bit savage perhaps, but part of daily life at the time. Except …

A Blue Ground Print from Yangliuqing

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Here’s a “Blue Ground” or qingdi print (青地年画) from Yangliuqing showing the master strategist Kongming, aka Zhuge Liang, from the historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. A roundel above contains a generalised lanscape with figures, with a pair of crickets (feeding on some fruit) below. I especially like the crickets. As with most Yangliuqing prints, the outlines have been …

A warrior’s phoenixes

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Here’s a stone rubbing of a pair of phoenixes amongst peonies, overshadowed by a wutong tree. Peonies are considered the “king of flowers” in China, often paired in art with the phoenix, which usually represents female power. But here, as both male and female phoenix are shown, the peonies simply emphasise the regal nature of the birds. The tree links …

He He Harmony

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Here’s a rubbing from a tablet at the Hanshan Temple in Suzhou of Hanshan (寒山) and Shide (拾得), two Tang-dynasty free thinkers later deified as He He Erxian (和合二仙), the twin Immortals of Harmony. Nothing definite is known about Hanshan and Shide, not even their dates or real names. They lived sometime in the seventh or eighth centuries; Hanshan – …

Tribute Elephants at the Qing Court

David Leffman Uncategorized 4 Comments

Elephants are associated with wisdom in Chinese lore – the bodhisattva Puxian, the very embodiment of wisdom, is depicted riding one – and the emperors themselves used them as a symbol of their own sagacity and authority. Life-sized carvings of elephants guarded the Imperial tombs, and the palace kept live ones too, in stables known as the “Tame Elephant Facility” …

Dryden Phelps and the Omei Illustrated Guide Book (峨山圖志)

David Leffman Uncategorized 1 Comment

Mount Emei – or “Omei” as the locals say it – rises three thousand metres above the edge of the Chengdu plain in China’s Sichuan province, its southern face a dramatic, sheer cliff. Covered from its subtropical foothills to chilly summit in dense green forest and tangled undergrowth, full of rare plants and dripping with moisture, it’s also a holy …

Medicinal Moon Hare

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Here’s a print from Beijing of the white Moon Hare pounding herbs in a mortar to make the elixir of immortality. It was probably meant to be put up in the home during the Mid-Autumn Festival – associated with the full moon – and dates from the 1930s. Behind the hare is the icy Guanghan Palace, residence of the beautiful …