Saturday, 22 July 2017


#frost #shuang  #hanzi #kanji #cursive #calligraphy #technozi


For Inspiration Study and Reference

I've posted these images before but that was some time ago ... years probably and frost is on my mind since it certainly is not summer in my area!

something I made with #inkscape and #gimp a few years back!

A scan from a book I own 

Enlarged edited diagrams derived from that scan.

The lower part of the character is xiang and seems to have be picked as the phonetic primarily because it ends in -ang like Shuang unless perhaps whoever created the  character was looking of looking at trees when its frosty or inspecting orchards or timber for frost damage?

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Guess the country of Origin

Can you guess where this was made?

One major clue is the particular shade of blue that the cobalt oxide underpainting fired to?

No its NOT Chinese or Japanese.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Hokusai Chicken print

#ukiyo-e #japaneseprint #hokusai

Un or semi colored rough proofs for japanese woodblock prints rarely survive but somehow this one did and it shows the technical skills of the carver who did the block and the genius of Hokusai.

Note how the varying line widths create tone and depth and texture and the gradients in the reds too!

I find this by accident looking for something else and will now try to find a full color version for comparision!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Oracle Bone Script

There are many books with the words "50 .... you should know" especially in reference to western art and design. I would love it if I was commissioned to pick and comment on 50 significant Chinese works of art.

So called Oracle Bone Script (the name is modern) objects are the first records of Chinese writing, the ancestors, of Bronze Drum, Bird and Cloud, Small seal, Regular, and other forms of Chinese Kanzi, and hence also of Vietnamese ChuNom, Japanese Kana and Kanji, and Korean Hanja, and the modern simplified forms.

Would you like me to compile some of my posts into such a book? 
I would pick a mixture of Calligraphy, Painting, Architecture, Prints, Ceramics, and Lacquer, and try to pick objects that say something about Chinese culture and its influence on other cultures, Asian and European.

Let me know !

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Xuan Pin means ... er ...

There's a section of the Tao Te Ching that refers to the "Valley Spirit" Gu Shen and that the Valley Spirit also has another name XUAN PIN.

Now XUN PIN has been related as Dark Female Mysterious Female but also as Dark Valley or Deep Valley.

Note the characters used

Xuan dark hidden A sealed Cocoon from which life may emerge

Pin usually translated as Female Animal but some dictionaries online an dprint note that it also means valley. I think either the early scribes used the same character to write a word that sounded the same maybe in two dialects but had a different meaning or the word has changed meaning and I suspect the original meaning was either valley or cleft or er deep opening.

I couldnt find a image of bi in small seal script so drew one in Inkscape and added two even more archaic forms to the image. Note that Bi the right element in the character has changed its orientation over the centuries.

While its suppose to mean soon ladle scoop dagger etc some scholars claim it represents a person turning or moving but look at the oldest forms ! I can see that meaning deep valley so valleys have side branches or can open suddenly into a wider deeper vale.

Also appear in mind the left hand element "cow" actually refers to bovines and other grazers and browsing herd animals hence female. Though I'm thinking possibly a euphemism for an opening female mammals have which would explain the er reluctance of male scholars to discuss why a minority uses valley and the link to valley spirit of dark female or hidden valley or deep vale or ...

er hum er ... yeah ... maybe ... what do you think?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Ninsei Vase

A break from the diversity theme and a return to Birds

A vessel crafted by a #Japanese #Potter called #Ninsei showing the influence of #bunjinga or "scholar" style Japanese painting. Technical points: this shows what you can do with white slip if you don't have a pure white stone ware or porcelain clay available. I don't know if the black was applied to the slip or is an overglaze but I'm thinking underglaze over white clay slip. I think the way the exposed clay at base enhances the the rocks and foreground of the image. I'm also thinking another influence may be been early ukiyo-e style prints with limited colors. The painting however beautifully fits the curve of the vessel.

Good potters think in terms of form and color?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

A Swarm of Dragons FIVE:More on the North South Divide


Some people would see the dividing line is the Yangtze and others the Huai river.

I would say it runs roughly along the mountains south of the WEI river basin and north and east of the Han river and roughly along the Yangtze wavering over the centuries as cultures emerged in the lakelands north and south of the Yangtze.

PLEASE NOTE that POST HAN and TANG these differences lessen to southwards migration.


Primary Cereal Crops Wheat Millet Beans  (See Book of Songs)

Primary Textile Fibers Hemp and Silk later. Some use of furs. Horse and chariot culture. Seeing outsiders as enemy or barbarians. Limited use of stone and bamboo.

Metalworking Higher Status than Ceramics during Bronze Age up to Han era when ability to fire to Stoneware temperatures and create multicolor glazes raised status of Ceramics.


RICE dominant crop. More use of Bamboo and Lacquer and Fish.
 More open to two way  interaction and trade with NON sinitic cultures in South East Asia such as the "Bronze Drum/ Dongson" groups or tolerating linguistic diversity.

Abiding preference for polychrome in  lacquer ceramics and other media.

Note I could add other factors. These are just some of the major ones.

Next post a break from this sequence and a look at a Taoist mystery.