Carved Bamboo with Landscape and Poetry

Filson-Saward Collection of East Asian Art

This carved bamboo presents a landscape and architectural elements carved in varying relief on one side and incised Chinese characters on the other. The inscription is a Chinese poem, “On the Stork Tower” (登鸛雀樓) by a famous Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty’s (618-907 C.E.) Kaiyuan era:Wang Zhihuan(王之涣), whose name has been traditionally been transcribed “Wang Tsu-huan.” The Stork Tower, or Guanque Tower (鹳雀楼), is one of the Four Great Towers of China and was located in Puzhou. People climbed the Stork Tower to enjoy the great natural scenery of the Yellow river.

Transcription and translation of the poem on the back:

白日依山盡 [white] [sun] [with] [mountain] [finish]

The sun along the mountain bows;

黃河入海流[Yellow] [River] [enter] [sea] [flow]

The Yellow river seawards flows.

欲窮千里目[want] [furthest] [thousand] [mile] [eye]

If you’ll enjoy a grander sight,

更上一層樓[more] [ascend] [one] [floor] [tower]

You’d climb up to a greater height.