Hand painted Chinese tile in alabaster

Translucent, milky, with its waxy and diaphanous opalescence, alabaster has always inspired the imagination of artists and poets, from the West to the Far East.
Our elegant plaque, painted in oil on both sides, was most likely used, together with other small plaques, to decorate the covering of a rich screen.
On one side it is possible to admire characters in court scenes, depicted in bright colors, while on the other a portion of a lush mountain landscape.

In particular, one of the two male figures is depicted playing the qǐn 琴 (also known as gùqǐn 古琴), a traditional Chinese musical instrument belonging to the family of bowed stringed instruments called zither.
The meaning of the term gùqǐn is “ancient stringed instrument” and the origin of the instrument dates back to more than two thousand years ago.
It is arranged horizontally, like most of the East Asian table-instruments; the seven strings are plucked with the right hand, while the left uses the techniques of glissando and harmonics. The melodious and warm sound gives the listener a sense of recollection and meditation.

What makes our tile unusual is the material: this type of artefact was in fact usually created in porcelain (the “pink family” quality is renowned, a type of Chinese porcelain that appeared for the first time around 1730, whish is also known as 粉彩 fěncǎi, “soft colors”, and subsequently 洋彩 yángcǎi “foreign colors”).
Our small plaque is instead in alabaster or, as it is commonly called in China, in “white marble”, from the Chinese word 汉白玉 石 hànbáiyùshi, where 白 bái means “white”, 玉石 yùshi indicates “jade” or more generally “precious stone” to remark the value of this type of marble and the prefix 汉 hàn designates the historical period in which this stone became commonly used in the construction of various architectural and decorative elements in imperial palaces: the Han Dynasty.

Riproduci video

Late Qing Dinasty (late 19th century – early 20th century)

8,5 x 8,5 cm
Thickness: 0,5 cm



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