Monday, 13 February 2017

A carving of Mei Lanfan

Mei Lanfan was a great opera singer.

A jade carving master wanted to create an art-piece to commemorate his birth. Very soon, there would be a celebration to honour the singer 120 year of his birth. As he was a great fan of the singer and he was skillful in jade carving, he wanted to carve something out of jade that could bring back fond memory of the great singer. Also he wanted it to be in time for the celebration

He began searching for the raw material in the jade market to create this masterpiece. He searched for a long time and yet could not find a suitable raw stone that could fulfill his dream.

Mei Lanfan, the opera singer
One day he stumbled upon a raw stone in the jade market. This is a piece of hetian jade ( a type of previous white jade) with some golden colour skin attached to it. Maybe this was the raw material he had been trying to find to carve and accomplish the task. He bought the stone from the vendor.

A fine precious raw jade stone
After buying the raw jade stone, he needed a theme to carve something that best described the artist. However hard he thought, he was not able to think of a theme. He needed inspiration badly as making something to commemorate this great opera singer was not a small task. Although the piece of jade was of very fine quality, the theme was equally important. Since he was a national master in jade carving, he could not simply carve something of inferior meaning, it had to be of divine nature in the subject area.

Day and night, he began to listen to the recordings of the singer in his study room. He was in need of some inspiration and yet he could not rush things. He had to let go and search in deep spirit for a theme. Suddenly when he was listening to certain portion of the opera songs on "drunken Guifei" (Mei Lanfan was famous for his role as Guifei in the opera), an idea struck him. He finally found the theme, the drunken Quifei. Yang Quifei was the Tang emperor's most adorable concubine that the emperor had to kill in order to quash a rebellion. The tragic love story between the Tang emperor and Yang Quifei can be found easily on the internet.

The artist listening to Mei Lanfan's records

Immediately he started work on the theme and produced some sketches and later transferred the theme onto the raw stone. The theme showed a pretty concubine with a Chinese fan half covering her face and a head gear with pearls on her head.

A fine sketch of the theme, Guifei portrayed by Mei Lanfan

Slowly and meticulously, he began work on the task of creating this masterpiece. He could not afford to make any mistake or else this would tarnish his work and the jade could be damage.

Work begins on the theme

Slowly and surely his work took form as he worked painstakingly to accomplish the task. One could see the image of the subject area appearing on the raw stone. He left the golden colour of the skin for the fan and the head gear of Guifei, the concubine.

The subject slowly takes form

After months of hard work, he eventually completed the task. A great masterpiece was created to the opera singer and his role as Guifei in his opera song. The jade was polished to a brilliant shine that reflected the quality of the material he chose for his masterpiece.

A final masterpiece

The jade master was satisfied with his work. He held the jade carving in his hand and kept admiring his creation. Nothing can describe his joy and sense of achievement.

One would think that he would sell his masterpiece to reap a huge profit or send it to the auction market where many people were eagerly sought after his works. With his fame and the grand-master title behind him, this masterpiece would fetch a very high price in auction.

The following day after he completed the jade carving, there was a celebration to commemorate the 120 years of the singer's birth. Immediate he set off to the house of the singer's descendant. On seeing the descendant of the opera singer, hg presented the carving to him as a gift to honour Mei Lanfan. The descendant happily accepted the gift and promised to place it in an museum that housed things of the opera singer.

Click here for more info on Yang Quifei and her tragic love story 
and for Mei Lanfan, the opera singer

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