Friday, August 03, 2012

The three friends of winter

At the time of my brief stay in Singapore, I visited Museum of Asian Civilization. It was interesting, as far as museums go. The exhibit which left the most lasting impression was a collection of rhinoceros horn cups. They are old and rare. The oldest cups in the collection date back to Song period (960-1279) when rhinoceroses had already been extinct in China. Craftsmen probably took a lot of consideration about decorating these cups and more often than not they chose to depict plants. Four cups shown above feature pine, plum and bamboo in various contexts. These plants happen to be the ‘three friends of winter’ all too familiar to us as bonsai favourites. I also had noticed that the pine was a popular element in other Chinese art at the museum (see images below).

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