Romance of the West Chamber

Home >> Art >> Carving >> Bamboo >>   The Romance of the West Chamber

      Zhu Zhizheng (朱稚征), born around 1559 (year died unknown), active from 1573 to 1619, was Zhu Ying (朱纓)'s third son. Among the many works which have come down to today carrying his sobriquet signature of "Sansong" (Third Pine, 三松), this holder is the most famous one. The high-relief scene shows a lady, her hair in tall topknots, her back to a screen, poring over a letter diffidently. This is Cui Yingying (崔鶯鶯) from the Romance of the West Chamber (西廂記). A lush wutong (phoenix tree) is lightly engraved on the screen and a bird stands on a bough. The carver's name "San Song" in Kai (regular) script is inscribed at the right lower corner of the screen, appearing to serve the double functions of being the signature for the painting on the screen, as well as for the brush-holder itself. Peeking out at Cui Yingying from behind the screen, yet the whole person almost fully in view, is her naughty maid Hongniang (紅娘). The latter seems to be hushing herself down with her index finger at the mouth. Farther back to the left of the screen is a wood table in relief, on which are arranged a crazed vase of lotus flowers, a potted miniature landscape with Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum, 靈芝), a qin (string instrument, 琴) in its protective wraps, and other sundry implements typical in a scholar's study: an incense burner, a brush, an ink stone, a water dish, and so on. All together, the foreground, the background, and the placement of various elements form a coherently streamlined composition around the tubular surface.