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A boat carved out of an olive pit

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The sculpture, carved in the 18th century, is being exhibited in China’s National Palace Museum

In 1737, after reading the “Ode on the Red Cliff” — a well-known work written by the Chinese poet Su Shih — the Chinese artist Chen Tsu-Chang started working on a new sculpture, depicting Su Shih alongside his friends on a boat, sailing under the moonlight. However, rather than working on marble, stone or wood, Tsu-Chang decided he was going to carve his piece from an olive pit.

The sculpture is full of intricate details: eight figures travel on the boat, each one of them endowed with particular expressions, in different positions all along the boat.
The sculpture is full of intricate details: eight figures travel on the boat, each one of them endowed with particular expressions, in different positions all along the boat.

The sculpture is full of intricate details: eight figures travel on the boat, each one of them endowed with particular expressions, in different positions all along the boat. The roof, windows and doors of the small ship are abundantly decorated, and can even be opened and closed at convenience.

The sculpture is barely 16 millimeters tall and 34 millimeters long, and is currently exhibited in China’s National Palace Museum
The sculpture is barely 16 millimeters tall and 34 millimeters long, and is currently exhibited in China’s National Palace Museum

According to the post Cultura Inquieta published on Tsu-Chang’s work, the sculpture is barely 16 millimeters tall and 34 millimeters long, and is currently exhibited in China’s National Palace Museum. It is, indeed, an ode in itself to patience, attentiveness to detail and love for one’s work.

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