Ivory vase

Abstract

This carved ivory vase seems to have either been dyed with tea or aged to a dark color over time. There is a landscape scene incised onto one side of the belly of the vase and a poem on the other. The landscape covers about 2/3 of the belly, while the poem only covers 1/3. The scene is incised in outline rather than fine detail; that was probably an attempt to leave the surface plain in order to better appreciate the grain of the elephant tusk. The characters which make up the poem are written in a running script (not official characters). The poem is of the Tang Dynasty, attributed to one of the Tang masters (possibly Bai Juyi, Du Fu, or Li Bai). There are three seals around the poem which have not been deciphered. One seal can be seen on the upper right side of the poem and the other two are at the bottom of the left column of the poem. The scene is composed of four men who are each doing something different. One man drives a boat with cargo down a river, while a second fishes on the bank. A third man can also be seen near the river, sitting outside of a house. The fourth man is actually seen inside a house which is built on piers. There are bamboo, palm, willow, and cypress trees in the scene as well. On the left side of the scene we first see a cypress tree growing on a rock. Next is a palm tree which is behind a house. There seems to be a bamboo tree (or a very large orchid) just to the right of the palm tree. Next we see two willow trees on each side of the river with a bird flying in between. On the far right of the scene we see another cypress tree once again growing from a large rock

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