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Fretwork from Guilin -- symbolism evades me
When I lived in China on a research grant, I came across this fretwork in a Guilin antique shop. So authenticity is not super important; what's important is figuring out the symbolism. This, to me, is not related directly to the auspicious symbolism of any of the surrounding religions nor the minority cultures of the area. The last time I came close was with a papercut artist in Beijing; he mentioned leapfrog.
What do y'all think? Thanks for any insight. He's my house guardian who loves to stump visitors.
I like him as a house guardian - kind of sends the message "behave yourself here or I'll jump through the air and piss on your head!"
How big is this little guy?
@johnshoe He's 14" by 9" inches.
I completely agree; I will piss on you if you don't behave.
I have to dig deeper in an older hard drive for photos from the shop-- I thought I had one of the shop.
Beneath is a photo of him when we got back to my apartment in Shanghai.
Is it a boot jack or a door knocker? What does the back look like? Welcome to the forum Prairie, the finish looks like old patina.
P.S. if it is 9" wide then it is too big to be a boot jack.
My guess is it represents He-He Er Xian. Two Daoist Immortals represented as two boys associated with happy marriages.
@fuantiques WOAH, I completely did not consider them--great thinking.
@sharonp Here is the back; I've never seen a bootjack outside of North America-- I'd be curious.
The piece looks like it was cut from a larger fretwork ensemble, especially since the back is painted that red wood-like color. Appreciate the help, y'all. 🤠
@prairie as He He Er Xian are associated with weddings & many children, you could be right that its a decorative piece, most likely a part of one of those (sometimes stunning) carved woodwork wedding beds. Lots of wood carved panels & other pieces of these beds turn up on the antique market as they make more money as a piecework than as a whole bed. Being that is gilt on wood as well makes me 98% certain that this is what its from. The symbolism matches that as well since the Chinese held (I guess they still do) having male children especially boys as their ultimate goal in life (boys take care of the parents, as girls are married off to the husbands family), so double boys on a wedding bed is their wishes to achieve many male offspring during their 'union'. It's a nice piece!
All the best,
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The BidAmount Asian Art Forum | Chinese Art
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