This tiny artwork has several incredible features that make it simply unique.
- This is actually an olive pit!
- It is 1.34 inches long and 0.63 inches high.
- The boat has doors that can be opened and closed.
- On the boat are eight figures, each of which is carved with its own animated expression.
- And last but not least, there are over 300 characters engraved on the bottom of the boat.
The engraving is the poem “Former Ode to the Red Cliff,” which was written by the Song Dynasty poet-official Su Shi, and is a rare masterpiece in literary and artistic circles.
The ode depicts Su and his friends traveling on a small boat to visit the Red Nose Cliff just outside Huangzhou on July 16 in the 5th Year of Yuan Feng (1082).
Through this ode, Su expressed his views about the universe, and life in general.
He wrote about the heroes, while also facing the realities of life’s brevity and people’s hypocritical nature.
Here is an excerpt from the poem. You can read the rest of the translation on the museum’s website.
|Cassia oars and orchid paddles
Beat the illusory moon,
Rowing against the flow of streaming light.
From a great distance my heart
Yearns for my beloved at one end of the sky.