H30 × W50 × D50
2011 (180 days)
Chinese happily embrace the idea of good luck and having things your way, and are especially fond of expressing this through puns, metonymy and metaphor. Thus, this work uses natural ecology with species combined in a meaningful way to accomplish an utterly fascinating picture. Deep within it is enlightenment about life. If members of the public can get along peacefully in this way, it would be such a beautiful scenario: peace and togetherness in one’s heart, compassionate and joyful ideals offer food for thought in the subject matter, and comprise Great Harmony. The hundreds of hairy crabs each have a distinctive pose, and if you look carefully, each has its own expression, drawing the observer in to the minutiae of the work. Then seek out the sleek texture of the frog’s skin, the thin wings of the flitting butterflies, the minute hairs on the insects. All of these features depict the minute subtleties of life. No matter how tiny or weak, each creature has its unbelievable physical beauty and remarkable actions. The pond is the habitat of the hairy crab and frog, while the insects and butterflies thrive amidst the lotuses. The warm, smooth, and antithetically clear and cool properties of jade allow one to sense the tiny ripples on the water. The graceful lotus blossoms infuse the entire ecology with soft beauty. Water is prone to evaporate; flowers, to wither; and life to melt away. Although life is vacuous and substantive, gold and jade are eternal and long-lasting. The great harmony amidst these is food for thought!
The beauty of Chinese literature lies in its double entendres and puns. Punning is interesting, because it allows flowers, grasses, trees, fruits and vegetables, and implements of daily use to become meaningful symbols or metaphors for celebration and auspiciousness. In this work, the word for “lotus” in Chinese and the word for “crab” are each homophones for the two syllables of the Chinese word for “harmony.” The crab in folk art symbolizes gaining public office and wealth, and is appropriate for congratulating successful exam candidates or those who are promoted in rank. The Chinese word for “crab” is also a homonym for the word “thanks,” and so is rich in connotations of gratitude and very intimate. In financial circles, it is popular to make presents of crabs since the creature scuttles horizontally. The Chinese phrase for “strike it rich with windfall gains,” which involves the concept of such windfall gains cutting across the grain of earned profit, is happily received. The lotus projects a clean, unsullied white image emerging from filthy mud, so is suitable for praising a clean official for avoiding worldly temptation. A field full of lotus leaves connotes completeness and satisfaction. The frog has since ancient times symbolized repaying kindness with money, and the single-syllable Chinese word root for butterfly is a homonym for elderly males in the family, hence serves as a wish for the recipient to live to a very old age. This successively alternating auspicious grand assemblage of animals and insects, and the Chinese idea that one strikes it rich when encountering water, make the depiction of this scene rich with meaning beyond words. Listen to the concerto of chirping insects and frogs with a joyful heart! “Lotus-crab” and “harmony” are both replete with humorous charm and symbolize the most sincere best wishes.
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