GALLERY OF UNUSUAL FORMS OF PEN
The allusions to an island-mountain
in the sea refer to the Three Isles of the Blessed: Penglai, Fangzhang,
and Yingzhou. The legendary Chinese Immortals (hermits of perennial
youth) were thought to live partly in the Western Mountains and partly
on movable islands in the Eastern Sea off the coast of Shandong.
Like the Immortals themselves, these islands dissolved into mist as human travellers approached.
on a corridor leading to the tomb of Prince Zhang Huai at Qianling.
Cognizant of their true scale in
and communication with Heaven and Earth, certain sages may have begun to
collect and later actually make powerful concentrated representations of
this relationship so as to demonstrate and maintain the balance of creation.
The utilitarian vessel which had been assigned the task of holding offerings
to Heaven (or at least the water to properly cleanse oneself beforehand)
was then eventually employed to define the limits of these magical miniature landscapes.
Note: At this time, we do
not yet have a continuous sequence of containers from other-purpose
bronze/earthenware trays which may have been employed to hold the first
magical miniature landscapes, to trays specifically designed for use
this way (and without a foot?), to [possibly] standard flower pots, to
containers specifically created for dwarf potted living landscapes (with or without corner feet).
However, our recent addition of the
earliest known ceramic pen (above) dating back to at least the fifth century B.C.E. shows
that such containers definitely predated the sometimes pen-accompanied
boshanlu which are thought
to be the non-living precursors of botanic magical miniature landscapes.
Note: All references in the above article to the water basin have been standardized using the spelling of "
Wood, Frances A Companion to China (New York: St. Martin's Press; 1988), pp. 52-53;
Fitzgerald, C.P. China, A Short Cultural History (Boulder, CO: Westview Press; 1985), pp. 18-20, 34-36;
Debaine-Francfort, Corinne The Search For Ancient China (NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.; ©1999 Thames and
Hudson Ltd., London; ©1998 Gallimard. Translated from the French by Paul G. Bahn);
Distances and directions from Xian per WolframAlpha.com;
Zhongmin, Han and Hubert Delahaye (A Journey Through Ancient China
; New York: Gallery Books; 1985), pp. 9, 11-12, 18-23, picture of bo
on pg. 22 -- it seems to be only a linguistic coincidence that the
pen (or pan) and bo were used in
[Pan-p'o], the most famous and representative site which we know of from
this time, a ditch-encircled twelve-acre village lasting from 5000 to 3000 B.C.E.
This was located at a spot that would eventually see a series of ever-larger
settlements, culminating with the present day city of Xian;
Per The Chinese Exhibition, The Exhibition of Archaeological Finds of the People's Republic of China
(Kansas City, MO: Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum; 1975), pg. 14, the site was excavated between 1954 and 1957;
Scarre, Chris (editor-in-chief), Smithsonian Timelines of the Ancient World
(London: Darling Kindersley, Inc.; 1993, First American edition), pp. 70, 73, 77-79, 88-90;
The four line drawings of the development of
pen ("Pottery Prototype," "Early Shang," "Late Shang," "Early Zhou")
are from Fig. 1 by Phyllis Ward in
The Great Bronze Age of China, edited by Wen Fong (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
and The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1980), pp. 4-5;
Pre-Tang Ceramics of China, Chinese Pottery from 4000 BC to 600 AD
(London: Faber and Faber Limited; 1991), pp. 2, 13. Per pp. 28-29, and 34: "In the last two decades of the second century
BC and through the following century the ding tripod, pan dish and the 'sauce-boat' yi,
all representing archaistic revivals, were lead-glazed, usually in green. But other forms which accompanied them
reflect new interests: the commemoration of domestic and landed wealth. The ritual vessels are joined by models
of tall granary jars, well-heads, stoves, equipped kitchens, pig-sties, cattle pens and figurines of domestic animals,
either lead-glazed or left plain in the red-burning earthenware...
Per "Chinese put relics' age at 7,000 years," The Arizona Republic, November 8, 1986, pg.
A19, Dateline Peking, United Press International, evidence has been mounting
for another civilization, the Liangzhu in southern Zhejiang province's
Taihu Lake Valley region. Lasting from perhaps 5,000 to 2,000 B.C.E.,
it was agriculturally-based, developed experience working jade, silk, pottery,
and bamboo-weaving, and had its own written language. We need to
remember that the fossil evidence of human beings in China extends back at least
some four hundred thousand years. It would be a terrible conceit
on our part to assume that no civilization of any kind existed until the
last tenth of that period just because we currently do not know of or recognize
any evidence of earlier civilizations. Archaeological finds are continually
being discovered, evaluated and re-interpreted.
Fitzgerald, pp. 15, 16, 21, 23, 28, 42-43, 116;
Sullivan, Michael The Arts of China
(Berkeley: University of California Press; 1984), pp. 14, 22-24, 31;
Fong (1980), pp. 45-47;
Wood, pp. 53-55; Watson, Ceramics, pp. 2-3, 27;
Chu, Arthur and Grace Chu Oriental Antiques and Collectibles, A Guide
(New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.; 1973), pg. 15;
Wu, Yee-Sun Man Lung Artistic Pot Plants
(Hong Kong: Wing-Lung Bank Ltd.; 1969, 1974. Second edition), pg. 62;
Koreshoff, Deborah R. Bonsai: Its Art, Science, History and Philosophy
(Brisbane, Australia: Boolarong Publications; 1984), pg. 2; Jellicoe, Sir
Geoffrey and Susan Jellicoe (consult. eds.) and Patrick Goode and Michael Lancaster (exec. eds.)
The Oxford Companion to Gardens (Oxford University Press, 1986), pg. 111;
Liang, Amy The Living Art of Bonsai
(New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.; 1992), pg. 98;
Chiu, Milton M. The Tao of Chinese Religion
(Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.; 1984), pp. 2, 56-67;
The Chinese Exhibition gives two examples of bronze pen
from this time, both decorated with the kuei
dragon design: B&w Plate 73 is of a vessel dating from the 16th to 11th centuries B.C.E.
from Henan province, 10.5 cm high and 30 cm in diameter, and B&w Plate 103 is
from 11th century B.C.E.
Anhui province, 9.4 cm high and 31.6 cm in diameter; other bronze pen
from the 11th and 10th centuries B.C.E. are in
Watson, William Ancient Chinese Bronzes
(London: Faber and Faber; 1962, 1977, Second edition),
b&w fig. 26 a,b, 26c, and 27b, text on pp. 45-46, 111.
Fitzgerald, pp. 15, 16, 21, 23, 28, 42-43, 116;
Sullivan, pp. 14, 22-24, 31;
Wood, pp. 53-55;
Chu, pg. 15;
Watson, Bronzes, pg. 45-46;
Henricks, pg. 194;
Fong (1980), pg. 198;
The Chinese Exhibition, pg. xiv;
Clunas, Craig Art in China
(Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1997), pp. 27; per Clunas Superfluous Things, Material Culture
and Social Status in Early Modern China (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press; 1991. Paperback edition 2004),
pg. 95, "But it was in the Song period (960-1279) that a culture driven by a revivified and systematized
Confucianism elevated ancient bronzes to a pinnacle of esteem from which they were never to descend.