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Bird - phoenix

Bird - phoenix

Western Han Era (206 B.C. – 9 A.D.)
Gansu, Wuwei (?)
Wood (epicea asperata)
H : 20 cm L :24.5 cm W : 11.5 cm
M.C. 9872

This stylised bird, with a phoenix’s spread wings and a fanned tail, is posed, as if suspended, over a sort of small stem, placed on a flat plate. The original position and function remains unknown. It expresses boldness and nobility.

The very light wood has become ultra delicate over time and has only retained a few touches of white, red and black colour. All of the elements, placed into notches, were mobile; they were somewhat fastened for security.

The bird-phoenix has been prominent since ancient times. Rather mysterious objects have been found dating back to the Era of the Warring States (5th – 3rd century B.C.). Representing a bird with its wings spread, sometimes more eagle-like than phoenix-like, it is placed on a column in a bowl to form the niao-chupan, which means, word for word, “bird-column-bowl”.

When filled with water, the set could have been used as a mirror, a magic evocation of the Fortunate Isles, the Taoist mountain of Immortality in the Eastern seas; while dry, it instead served as a lamp.

Auteur de la notice : Marie-Thérèse Bobot
Collection : Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220)
Mode d'acquisition : Purchase, 1992.

Oiseau - Phénix
© Musée Cernuschi