Condition: Excellent

Chinese Shiwan (Shekwan) Ware | Commoners with a Guqin Zither | 20th/Century

Pictured are two elderly gentlemen seated with Guqin Zither in a traditional case. Guqin is a seven-stringed zither, and is considered the most classical Chinese instrument, with over 3000 years of history. This ancient instrument has always been treasured as a symbol of high culture by Chinese intellectuals, and Confucianists, and with this figurine, it is often seen in landscapes, with sages viewing some scenic beauty. The well-educated person was expected to be skilled in four arts: qi, (chess, or probably go), shu, (calligraphy), hua, (brush painting), and music, through the playing of the guqin. The guqin’s high bridge near the wide end of the soundboard is called the “great mountain” as illustrated in this piece sitting on the table between the two elderly gentlemen. In performance, the gugin symbolizes the union of heaven, earth, and humankind.

One gentleman is wearing a green glazed robe with blue trim. The other person has a blue robe with white grazed trim. It is RARE to see this instrument in mud figures, and this alone makes this a very unique piece. Both heads and hands are unglazed and they both have white glazed hair with a traditional top notch.

Condition: excellent: no chips or missing elements, repairs or crazing. This piece has an impressed stamp, “CHINA” on the bottom, indicating it was made between 1890-1919. Dimensions: 4-1/4”w x 4-1/4”h (10.7cm x 10.7cm).

Additional Information: 

Please refer to our Discovery section for historical information on Shiwan Ceramics | Mud Figures, and our Book section, for out- of-print books for sale on the subject.


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