Cricket cage

This cricket-cage gourd has six vertical mould marks clearly visible on its exterior. A plain ivory rim supports an elaborately carved reticulated ivory lid. Carved as a moveable unit is a large tortoise, with its four feet locked into curving waves. Standing atop the tortoise (or the White Turtle) are characters from the famous Chinese novel Hsi-yu-chi (^c^), translated by Arthur Waley as Monkey. At the center is the Chinese Buddhist monk, Hsuan-tsang (^c^), with his horse at his right. Immediately behind the head of the tortoise is Monkey, while Pigsy (chu-pa-chieh, ^c^) guards the rear. Another guardian figure, Sandy (sha-ho-shang, ^c^) looks to the left. The scene depicts the episode from Chapter XXIX, “Hsi-yu-chi,” which Waley translated as follows:

The White Turtle was nearing the shore. “I’ve been waiting for you all this time,” he said, craning his neck. “We are very glad to meet you,” said Monkey, “come a little closer in.” The turtle then sidled up to the bank and Monkey led the horse on to its broad back. Pigsy squatted behind its tail, Tripitaka [i.e. Hsuan-tsang] stood on one side of its head, Sandy on the other. Monkey stood with one foot on its neck and the other on its head. “Now then, old turtle,” he said,” go steadily,” and the turtle set off smoothly and easily across the waters, carrying the whole company uneventfully till evening fell and they had almost reached the other side.” (p. 292)

a=gourd; b=ivory lid; c= silk pouch with appliqued flowers lined in pink silk with drawstring.

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 19th century, or possibly early 20th century
Medium
Gourd, ivory
Dimensions
H x W: 16.2 x 7 cm (6 3/8 x 2 3/4 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1984.38.2a-c
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Container
Type

Cricket cage

Keywords
Buddhism, China, cricket, horse, monk, monkey, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), Robert Hatfield Ellsworth collection, tortoise, turtle, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

This cricket-cage gourd has six vertical mould marks clearly visible on its exterior. A plain ivory rim supports an elaborately carved reticulated ivory lid. Carved as a moveable unit is a large tortoise, with its four feet locked into curving waves. Standing atop the tortoise (or the White Turtle) are characters from the famous Chinese novel Hsi-yu-chi (^c^), translated by Arthur Waley as Monkey. At the center is the Chinese Buddhist monk, Hsuan-tsang (^c^), with his horse at his right. Immediately behind the head of the tortoise is Monkey, while Pigsy (chu-pa-chieh, ^c^) guards the rear. Another guardian figure, Sandy (sha-ho-shang, ^c^) looks to the left. The scene depicts the episode from Chapter XXIX, "Hsi-yu-chi," which Waley translated as follows:

The White Turtle was nearing the shore. "I've been waiting for you all this time," he said, craning his neck. "We are very glad to meet you," said Monkey, "come a little closer in." The turtle then sidled up to the bank and Monkey led the horse on to its broad back. Pigsy squatted behind its tail, Tripitaka [i.e. Hsuan-tsang] stood on one side of its head, Sandy on the other. Monkey stood with one foot on its neck and the other on its head. "Now then, old turtle," he said," go steadily," and the turtle set off smoothly and easily across the waters, carrying the whole company uneventfully till evening fell and they had almost reached the other side." (p. 292)

a=gourd; b=ivory lid; c= silk pouch with appliqued flowers lined in pink silk with drawstring.

Published References
  • Wang Shixiang. Charms of the Gourd [Shuo hu lu]. Hong Kong. p. 357, pls. 176-7.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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