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Excerpt Ivory and fruit pit micro-carvings are highly specialized art form. In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, large-scale sculpture saw no further development, but small-scale carving arts flourished and saw great creativity. Ivory and fruit pit carvings are the most outstanding among them. Ivory is a material which is somewhat adhesive and soft in nature so the knife cuts clearly and distinctively, as a result, to express infinite meanings in finite space. Otherwise, stone material is fragile so the engraved words fill with dust after the knife has finished carving, difficult to find sculpture. Therefore, ivory micro-carving stands out from micro-carvings. The arts of ivory micro-carvings and scholar’s seals have proud origins. Since the Ming and Qing Dynasties, learned scholars, who were familiar with calligraphy and wished to conjure up an artistic mood, used irony engraving knives to create calligraphy and pictures for emotional purpose, and for their own and their friends’ amusement. In addition to poems, calligraphy and pictures, scholars also strove to carve tiny inscriptions on the sides of their seals, and eventually they had developed fine and delicate carving works. Ivory micro-carvings developed on this basis in this way. Yu Shuo and Wu Nan-yu were the most eminent practitioners during the late Qing and early Republic. Both were outstanding in their use of brushes, knives and ink; their extremely difficult tiny carvings of writing and painting were beyond compare. This text probes into not only ivory micro-carvings but also three-dimensional fruit pit carvings, also an important element. Fruit pit carvings are those of the pits of such fruits as olives, walnuts, peaches, etc. The origins of this art form are uncertain. According to the records, He Zhou Ji (核舟記) by Wei Xue-yi of the Ming Dynasty, and He Gong Ji (核工記) by Song Qi-feng of the Qing Dynasty, fruit pit carving had certainly achieved high standards by the time of the Ming Dynasty. There are few fruit pit carvings left from more ancient times. This text probes into the master pieces of the fruit pit carvings in the Qing Dynasty. It also includes some outstanding works by current professional fruit pit carvers, including Chen Su-ying, Ru Bor-ping, Qiu Ren and Chen Xiang-ming. Each work displays excellent composition with fine and smooth incisions. The micro-carvings are presented in digital microscopic photographs to reveal exquisite styles and features and greater details than those published before in books, without regrets. With arrangement and research, I hope to provide our compatriots who are fond of ivory and fruit pit micro-carvings with a new perspective and spirit of this art form.
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