Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Fairy Tale Statues, Part II
In one of my earliest posts on this blog, I said that I was undertaking to collect a list of fairy tale/mythic/fantastic statues around the world. Here is another for the list - from the Forbidden City. Isn't it startling! A dragon in a turtle shell: I have not seen an image of the Asian lung portrayed so before, though, admittedly, I have also not been to the Far East, and it may be that this creature is more common than I would guess. To my western myopia, this dragon is majestic; the sculpture suggests both the sacred and the otherworldly, and there is also a tremendous vitality in the arching of the dragon's neck and the poise of its toes: this statue does seem very much as though it might start breathing and walking, without warning: moving with surprisingly swiftness across the courtyard, like a komodo across an open field. It is like the stone-turned people in the Witch's Castle in Narnia - a puff of breath, and they swing into motion. Now that I have shamefully exoticized this particular figure, I bow my head. I hope my astonishment gives no offense. I long to know more about the context for this sculpture: comment if you know. Certainly dragons carry tremendous and ancestral importance in China, but what is the particular and unique story behind this one?
I am fascinated by that shell....