A Larger “Shan Zi” Tianhuang Stone Carving of Scholars and Landscape

1 month ago

Lot No. :HR-180410
Feature:Tianhuang stone(1*) sculpture, “Shan Zi” (2*), it carvered some sage-scholars and scenic views,
Source:Private collection
1* "Tianhuang" is the name of a kind of stone regarded as the most valuable of all stone sculpture materials in China. For this reason there are suggestions that tianhuang be designated as the "king of stones" of China. Tianhuang is produced in the mountains by the Shoushan Stream in the northern suburbs of Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province. In remote antiquity, cracked stone fell off the mountain and settled in a layer of sand that lay below paddy fields by the Shoushan Stream, and was gradually turned into a kind of sedimental sandy ore that is called tianhuang (which literally means "field and yellow") because of its yellowish colour and because it was mined from underneath paddy fields. Mixed with tianhuang are also stones red, white, black and grey in colour, which are consequently known as hongtian, baitian, heitian and huitian. After many centuries of constant mining, these stones are virtually in non-existence. With a crystal and moist texture, tianhuang is regarded as the best material available for the carving of seals, a Chinese obsession. In bygone days one ounce of tianhuang was worth one ounce of gold; today it has become even more precious. In autumn 1996, the Beijing Hanhai Company put a mid-Qing 460-gram tianhuang seal carved with a dragon-shaped top for auction at an offering price of 300,000 - 50,000 yuan, but the deal was clinched at a whopping 1.4 million yuan, an all-time high worldwide concerning the tianhuan stone.
2* Carvers need relatively large materials with ideal outlines for carving “Shan Zi”. The rough was hard to find and transport, and multiple carvers had to work together for long periods of time to design and carve an individual piece. In the past, only the royal family or extremely rich people could afford Shan Zi, especially the largest carvings. The result is that, along with its use as decoration, Shan Zi is also a symbol of wealth and power.


For more information, visit China Private Art Collection and Exchange Association