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Minature Olive Pit Sculpture Masterfully Carved in China in 1737

carved olive pit sculpture Ch'en Tsu-chang asian art miniature

If no one told you, then you'd probably never guess that this intricate sculpture was carved from the pit of an olive. Chinese artist Ch'en Tsu-chang crafted it in 1737, and this miniature artwork stands at only 16 millimeters tall and 34 millimeters wide. It follows the shape of the pit and depicts a small boat with eight figures, each of which has its own expression and action. There are masterfully-carved details on the doors and inside of the vessel that are unexpected from a work this size, and it's awe-inspiring to see just how well Tsu-chang had honed his craft.

According to the National Palace Museum of China, Tsu-chang's handiwork is based on the poet Su Shih's Latter Ode on the Red Cliff. It describes how the author enjoyed a boat ride with his friends under the moonlight sky. The artist paid homage to this inspirational source by engraving the poem on the bottom of the boat. This amazing addition was no small feat- the poem is more than 300 characters long and occupies nearly all of its tiny underside.

See details of the amazing carved olive pit sculpture below.

carved olive pit sculpture Ch'en Tsu-chang asian art miniaturecarved olive pit sculpture Ch'en Tsu-chang asian art miniatureNational Palace Museum of China: Website
h/t: [Lost At E Minor]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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