Medicinal Moon Hare

David Leffman Uncategorized Leave a Comment

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 …

The God of Wine

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The Venerable Wine-Making Immortal, inventor and patron of brewing and distilling (most Chinese “wines” are spirits), shown stroking his beard, surrounded by wine jars. According to some accounts the immortal was a legendary character named Du Kang (杜康), while others identify him as Shao Kang (少康), one of the kings of the Xia era (2070–1600 BC). The couplets either side …

The Immortal Archer Zhang Yuanxiao

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Here’s a woodblock print from Yangliuqing village west of Tianjin, one of nineteenth century China’s most prolific folk-craft centres. It shows the Daoist immortal Zhang Yuanxiao (張遠霄) from Meishan in Sichuan province, driving off the malignant black Heavenly Hound, shown flying away top right on red wings. The hound was believed to cause eclipses by eating the sun, and could …

Continuous Alcoholic Merriment

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This rubbing, measuring 36cm x 46cm, is taken from an Eastern Han (25–220 AD) tomb brick, unearthed in the early twentieth century from Xinjin county in Sichuan province. Used for mausoleum walls, these bricks were moulded in relief with scenes from the lives of an intelligent, fun-loving, articulate people: farmers gathering crops, salt miners at work, the upper classes hunting, …

Bishop White’s Falcon

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I’ve known this stone rubbing of a falcon forever. My Dad bought it in the 1950s from a gallery in Zürich “because I liked it”, the best reason to buy anything. The shop was near Dad’s business at Pelikanstrasse 6; he thinks it was Orell Füssli at number 10, though they are booksellers and printers, rather than art dealers. (There …

Taibai Shan Map, Mid-Autumn Festival 1700 太白全圖

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Here’s a map of Tai Bai Shan (3750m), the highest mountain in central China’s Qinlin range, which rises about 100km southwest of Xi’an city. The name comes from the mountain’s summit, which shines white with snow for most of the year; “Tai Bai” is the Chinese for Venus, brightest planet in the sky. The map is a rubbing taken from …

The Guan Yu stone rubbing mystery

David Leffman Uncategorized 3 Comments

Here’s a rubbing taken from an engraved stone tablet – a stele – of Guan Yu, a third-century general later deified as the incarnation of martial righteousness (and here’s a video of how these stone rubbings are made). Guan is riding the legendary Red Hare, a horse which could gallop “1000 miles in a day”, and holds his trademark halberd, …

勅建雞足名山全圖: A Complete Picture of the Famous Holy Monument, Mount Jizu

David Leffman Antiques, Buddhism, Dali, map, Uncategorized, woodblock, Woodblock print, Yunnan Leave a Comment

Here’s a woodblock-printed map of Yunnan province’s Jizu Shan (雞足山) – Chickenfoot Mountain – which peaks at 3240m east of Erhai Lake and the old walled town of Dali. According to the artist Huang Xiangjian, who painted a colour landscape scroll of the mountain in 1656, Jizu Shan got its name because “it is formed with three ridges in front …

Rank Badge Beasts

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This hand-coloured Chinese woodblock print from Yangliuqing, a famous craft centre outside of Tianjin city in northern China, came up recently at auction. The title, wenjing wuwei (文經武緯) literally means “civil warp, military woof” – the idea that civil and military departments should work closely together to govern the country. In reality, civil officials, who were only appointed after years …

Hallock’s Gods

David Leffman Uncategorized 1 Comment

It’s unusual to be able to date old Chinese woodblock prints – the same designs were often used for decades, and the cheap paper that they’re printed on ages badly (I’ve got a sun-bleached stove god print with a calendar for 1989, which looks at least a century older). However, I do know that the three prints below all date …