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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged Carving:

Tipu’s Tiger

'Tipu's Tiger' is an awesome, life-size beast of carved and painted wood, seen in the act of devouring a prostrate European in the costume of the 1790s. It has cast a spell over generations of admirers since 1808, when it was first displayed in the East India Company's museum. Concealed in the bodywork is a mechanical pipe-organ with several parts, all operated simultaneously by a crank-handle emerging from the tiger’s shoulder. Turning the handle pumps … bellows and controls the air-flow to simulate the growls of the tiger and cries of the victim.

Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in India for whom the automaton was built, identified himself with tigers; his personal epithet was ‘The Tiger of Mysore,’ his soldiers were dressed in ‘tyger’ jackets, his personal symbol invoked a tiger’s face through clever use of calligraphy and the tiger motif is visible on his throne, and other objects in his personal possession [Source]. The death of a young Englishman named Munro carried off by a man-eating tiger in 1792 was the inspiration … Munro was the son of Sir Hector Munro, one of the East India Company’s generals. His death was seen by [Tipu] … as divine retribution against the British invaders [Source - see also documentary].

(Source: vam.ac.uk)

Olive Seed Carving
Ch’en Tsu-chang, originally from Kwangtung, had already entered the Imperial Bureau of Manufacture in the Yung-cheng reign (1723-1735). In 1737, he followed the natural shape of an olive pit to carve a small boat. On the boat are eight figures, each of which is animated and expressive in an individual manner. What is most fascinating is that the entire text of Su Shih’s “Latter Ode on the Red Cliff”, including more than 300 characters and upon which this work is based, is engraved with exquisite detail on the bottom of the boat, testifying to the heavenly craftsmanship of the artist. (Height: 1.6 cm, length: 3.4 cm)
See it HUGE.

Olive Seed Carving

Ch’en Tsu-chang, originally from Kwangtung, had already entered the Imperial Bureau of Manufacture in the Yung-cheng reign (1723-1735). In 1737, he followed the natural shape of an olive pit to carve a small boat. On the boat are eight figures, each of which is animated and expressive in an individual manner. What is most fascinating is that the entire text of Su Shih’s “Latter Ode on the Red Cliff”, including more than 300 characters and upon which this work is based, is engraved with exquisite detail on the bottom of the boat, testifying to the heavenly craftsmanship of the artist. (Height: 1.6 cm, length: 3.4 cm)

See it HUGE.

Meat-shaped Stone

In the collection of the National Palace Museum, two of the most famous works on display are “Jadeite Cabbage” and “Meat-shaped Stone”, which is why these two are often exhibited together for the appreciation of visitors. At first glance, this meat-shaped piece of stone looks like a luscious, mouth-watering piece of “Tung-p’o meat”. Made from banded jasper, it is a naturally occurring stone that accumulates in layers over many years. With time, different impurities will result in the production of various colors and hues to the layers. The craftsman who made this meat-shaped stone took the rich natural resources of this stone and carved it with great precision, and then the skin was stained. This process resulted in the appearance of skin and lean and fatty layers of meat, the veining and hair follicles making the piece appear even more realistic. (1644-1911)

(Source: npm.gov.tw)

19th Century Chinese Carved Hornbill Ivory Casque

19th Century Chinese Carved Hornbill Ivory Casque

Chinese puzzle balls are ornate decorative items that consist of several concentric spheres, each of which rotates freely, carved from the same piece of material. Although the master carvers of old used ivory, in modern times you can find puzzle balls made of synthetic ivory, resin, wood, jade, and other materials. These detailed works of art are usually made up of at least 3 to 7 layers, but the world’s largest puzzle ball is actually made of 42 concentric balls all enclosed one within the other.

Chinese masters rotate a solid ball on a lathe and start by drilling holes toward the center of the objects. Then, using special “L”-shaped tools, they begin to separate the innermost balls. The tool with the longest upright has the shortest cutter, and the one with the shortest upright has the longest cutter. The craftsman lowers the longest tool to the narrow bottom of each hole in turn and rotates it to cut the innermost ball free. Then, using the second longest, which doesn’t reach as far down, but cuts a wider arc, he separates the second ball, and so on, from the innermost to the outermost shell. Because it is easier to work with, the exterior shell is the most elaborately carved, usually featuring an intertwined dragon and a phoenix.

They are solved by aligning all the holes.

(Source: odditycentral.com)

A French carving, dating from the 1700s, designed to look like a human molar. At 10.5 centimeters in height it depicts inside its two halves, “The tooth worm as Hell’s demon” an explanation of the toothache as a battle occurring with the mythical tooth worm. The legend of the tooth worm apparently dates back to 1800 BC Mesopotamia and even has its own creation myth:

“When Anu created the Sky,the Sky created the Rivers,The Rivers created the Valleys,the Valleys created the Swamps,the Swamps created the Worm,the Worm went to Samas and wept.His tears flowed before Ea.“What will you give me to eat, what will you give me to such?”“I’ll give you a ripe fig, apricots and apple juice.”“What use are a ripe fig,an apricot and apple juice to me?Lift me up! Let me dwell ‘twixt teeth and gum!I’ll suck the blood from the teethand gnaw the roots in their gums.”“Because you have said this, O Worm, mayEa sink you with his mighty hand!”

The idea of a tooth worm was finally put to scientific scrutiny in the late 18th century by both Pierre Fauchard — “the father of modern dentistry” — and Philip Pfaff — who was dentist to Frederick the Great of Prussia. Pfaff seemed loathe to totally commit to such a position however (or was, in fact, a wonderfully sarcastic man), writing that, while he himself had never personally come across a tooth worm, he did not wish “to dispute the observations of learned doctors.”

A French carving, dating from the 1700s, designed to look like a human molar. At 10.5 centimeters in height it depicts inside its two halves, “The tooth worm as Hell’s demon” an explanation of the toothache as a battle occurring with the mythical tooth worm. The legend of the tooth worm apparently dates back to 1800 BC Mesopotamia and even has its own creation myth:

“When Anu created the Sky,
the Sky created the Rivers,
The Rivers created the Valleys,
the Valleys created the Swamps,
the Swamps created the Worm,
the Worm went to Samas and wept.
His tears flowed before Ea.
“What will you give me to eat, what will you give me to such?”
“I’ll give you a ripe fig, apricots and apple juice.”
“What use are a ripe fig,
an apricot and apple juice to me?
Lift me up! Let me dwell ‘twixt teeth and gum!
I’ll suck the blood from the teeth
and gnaw the roots in their gums.”
“Because you have said this, O Worm, may
Ea sink you with his mighty hand!”

The idea of a tooth worm was finally put to scientific scrutiny in the late 18th century by both Pierre Fauchard — “the father of modern dentistry” — and Philip Pfaff — who was dentist to Frederick the Great of Prussia. Pfaff seemed loathe to totally commit to such a position however (or was, in fact, a wonderfully sarcastic man), writing that, while he himself had never personally come across a tooth worm, he did not wish “to dispute the observations of learned doctors.”

Convicted forger A. Schiller was serving his time in Sing Sing prison in the late 1800s when guards found him dead in his cell. On his body they found seven regular straight pins whose heads measured the typical 47/1000ths of an inch or 1.17 millimeters in diameter. Under 500 magnification it was found that the tiny etchings seen on the heads of the pins were the words to The Lord’s Prayer, which is 65 words and 254 letters long. Of the seven pins, six were silver and one was gold - the gold pin’s prayer was flawless and a true masterpiece. Schiller had spent the last 25 years of his life creating the pins, using a tool too small to be seen by the naked eye. It is estimated that it took 1,863 sepatate carving strokes to make it. Schiller went blind because of his artwork.

Convicted forger A. Schiller was serving his time in Sing Sing prison in the late 1800s when guards found him dead in his cell. On his body they found seven regular straight pins whose heads measured the typical 47/1000ths of an inch or 1.17 millimeters in diameter. Under 500 magnification it was found that the tiny etchings seen on the heads of the pins were the words to The Lord’s Prayer, which is 65 words and 254 letters long. Of the seven pins, six were silver and one was gold - the gold pin’s prayer was flawless and a true masterpiece. Schiller had spent the last 25 years of his life creating the pins, using a tool too small to be seen by the naked eye. It is estimated that it took 1,863 sepatate carving strokes to make it. Schiller went blind because of his artwork.

Tibetan art carved into human skull.

(Source: skullappreciationsociety.com)