A "Dragons Playing with a Pearl" Tian Huang Stone Seal by Wu Changshuo

1 week ago

Lot No. :HRCS-WCS-190509
Artist: WU Changshuo (1*) (1844 - 1927)
Feature:A stone seal. Tianhuang (2*) stone.
Source:Private collection
1* WU Changshuo born Wu Junqing, was a prominent painter, calligrapher and seal artist of the late Qing Period. Wu was born into a scholarly family in Huzhou, Zhejiang. In his twenties, Wu moved to Jiangsu Province and settled down in Suzhou. Prior to the collapse of the Great Qing, he served as an imperial official in Liaoning. Initially, he devoted himself to poetry and calligraphy with a strong interest in early scripts. He also led the Xiling Society of the Seal Art, an academic organisation for Hangzhou-based seal artists. Only later did he consider himself a painter associated with the "Shanghai School." As a painter, he was noted for helping to rejuvenate the art of painting flowers and birds. He considered carving seals and doing paintings to be integrated to each other. His work garnered him fame and was highly regarded in Japan.
2* Tian Huang 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. 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 Tianhuang stone.
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.


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