• STN-406 A Pair of Ming Dynasty Stone Bases with Carved Floral Design

    Ancient Stone Collection

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    (一對大型明代雕花石座) This is a very interesting Ming Dynasty carved stone base out of a pair. They are quite large, probably two feet or more in diameter each. The base is carved out of one piece of stone with three different shapes in one: the round top (圓), the hexagonal middle (六角), and a plain square bottom (方 ). Both the top and the middle section are carved with bold designs of different floral patterns with fully open blossom facing towards the front-a pattern seen often in Chinese woodwork from the Ming period. The carved design in the middle section, with various different depths of the surfaces, looks like a varied Ruyi (如意; to-your-wish) design with the flowers shaping like clouds, carved in a relieved style, and being housed in two cave-like spaces; while the flowers (with leaves) on the top section, though also carved in the relieved style, are contrarily and fully exposed to the view. This kind of playing with the concept of the Yin (陰; 陰刻) and the Yang (陽; 陽刻) is fairly common in Chinese woodwork and in stone work as well. Also, when one looks closely at the Ruyi design, the whole design actually looks like a face (臉; 獸面) as well with the middle being the “nose” and flowers being the “eyes”. And when looking at that “nose”, one also sees a slender figure-like carved feature. This type of personification is not uncommon in Chinese woodwork and other types of Chinese carving as well. This piece reminds me of the saying “seeing the world through a grain of sand” besides that I love its boldness in design! A Ruyi design often can shape like a cloud (雲朵), a Ling-Zhi (靈芝; Chinese medicinal mushroom), or a heart shape.

  • STN-241 Ancient Stone Bench with

    Ancient Stone Collection

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    (明或早清刻延年長石凳 ) This is the side view of the top of a very long ancient Chinese stone bench, possibly from the 17th or 18th century. The bench is composed of three sections: the horizontal top that is probably 5, 6 feet long or longer, and the two short pedestals to support the top. The carved design is a “continuing” design. If one traces the design with one's finger from the bottom up, the design never breaks until the end of the bench. This type of continued design stemmed from Chinese philosophy that people, heaven, and earth are one unity as the universe cycles in its own cycle, never ceases. This piece is part of Shen's vast collection of ancient Chinese stone objects that are mostly architecturally based. This collection can offer great opportunity in studying ancient Chinese architecture, art, design, Chinese philosophy, and culture.

  • #STN-002

    Ancient Stone Collection

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  • #STN-006

    Ancient Stone Collection

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    This unusual dark, almost black, carved old stone plaque was part of a building wall. It depicts a scenery of various buildings and pavilions, several different kinds of trees and rocks, as well as bridges, steps, and paths. The four characters in the middle, which one could barely see, read “Shui-Xi spring delight”. “Shui” is water, “Xi” is west. This “Shui- Xi”might be the “Shui- Xi village” , west of the old Tien-Jin city and the south shore of the Nan-Yuan-He South Channel, a famous private cluster of old Chinese gardens and buildings created by a wealthy merchant, “Cha” family, who prospered from selling salt, in 1700's. Apparently, it was so beautiful, not only it had attracted many writers and artists, Qian-Long Emperor also visited this place four times. Some literature researchers thought that the various landscape scenes in the famous classic “Dream of the Red Chamber” might have a tie with Shui-Xi village as the Cha family and the family of the author of the book were very close. During the Daoguang period (1821-1850), this village was partially rebuilt and a “Plum Blossom Poetry Club” was formed. Unfortunately, this site was later destroyed and rebuilt with other modern buildings. (Source from https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh/水西庄)

  • #STN-013

    Ancient Stone Collection

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  • #STN-014

    Ancient Stone Collection

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  • #STN-023(Pair)

    Ancient Stone Collection

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  • #STN-027 Ancient Carved Stone Hitching Post

    Ancient Stone Collection

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    An interesting ancient stone hitching post carved with a group of figures including a foreign soldier, a demon like face or fu-lion, and what looks like a puppy, a baby lion, or a monkey.

  • #STN-028

    Ancient Stone Collection

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  • #STN-033

    Ancient Stone Collection

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  • #STN-037

    Ancient Stone Collection

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  • #STN-038 Ming Dynasty Stone Hitching Post with A Carved Monkey

    Ancient Stone Collection

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    This ancient stone hitching post was used to rope a horse by the traveling military personnel or any traveler during the ancient time when stopping to take a break or to stay overnight at a tavern. In the museums in Shanxi province and other areas, one can see some of the stone hitching posts with various different carved motifs like the ones in Shen's Special Collection. The original posts were usually much taller. One sees the timeless beauty and the cultural back ground of these beautiful stone carvings in the sculptural form. Shown here is a human-like monkey or a gorilla on the top of the post. Monkey is a popular motif in Chinese stone art from the Ming Dynasty. One associates it with loyalty and wisdom through the personified monkey figure presented in the literature classic "Xi Yuo Ji (The West Bound Journey)" which describes the journey of the Tang-Sun-Tzang monk who went to India and brought back the Buddhist scripts to China during the 7th century. Hence, the Buddhism was introduced to China.

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