Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Doesn't look much like Bao, does it?

It's a Shih Tzu carved out of a bit of bamboo root, treasured by some Chinese scholar two hundred years ago. It's tiny -- about the size of my thumb -- and is holding a lattice-work ball that symbolizes the Buddhist jewel of truth. It's from the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which I hope to visit this summer.

Shih Tzu means lion dog in Chinese. The Chinese thought they looked like lions. Of course, there weren't any lions in China, so nobody knew what a lion really looked like.

Who knows how many lovely poems this little dog inspired? Chinese scholars were connoisseurs of such small, exquisite items, and collected with both passion and discernment, valuing humble, organic materials like soapstone, wood and bamboo over gold and other ostentatious metals. The honesty and simplicity of natural materials was meant to reflect the scholar's own character.

Sorry I couldn't make the picture bigger. I still haven't really mastered the fine points of my scanner.


Blogger Betty said...

I think Bao would inspire more poetry in me than the carving would.

1:36 PM


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