The fittings used are solid brass. The pieces are finished using a hard wearing, modern adaptation of a traditional hand lacquering technique found in China.
The timber is prepared and seven layers of black lacquer are then applied by hand. When fully dry, the pieces are lightly distressed so that the beautiful, golden tones of the timber are visible in places, lastly a final layer of wax is applied.
Signature brass panels with Chinese engravings are used in this collection. The characters engraved on the brass panels are excerpts from two very famous pieces of Chinese calligraphy, as translated below.
by Wang Xizhi (A.D. 353)
We met in late spring at the Orchid Pavilion in Shan-yin to celebrate the Water Festival.
All the scholar friends are gathered, and there is a goodly mixture of old and young.
In the background lie high peaks and deep forests, while a clear, gurgling brook catches the light to the right and to the left.
We then arrange ourselves, sitting on its bank, drinking in succession from the goblet as it floats down the stream.
No music is provided, but with drinking and singing, our hearts are at ease.
It is a clear spring day with a mild, caressing breeze.
The vast universe, throbbing with life, lies spread before us,
entertaining the eye and pleasing the spirit and all the senses.
It is perfect.
Now when people come together, they let their thoughts travel to the past and the present.
Some enjoy a quiet conversation indoors and others play about outdoors, occupied with what they love.
The forms of amusement differ according to temperaments, but when each has found what he wants he is happy and never feels old.
Then as time passes on and one is tired of his pursuits,
it seems that what fascinated him not so long ago has become a mere memory.
What a thought! Besides, whether individually
we live a long life or not, we all return to nothingness.
The ancients regarded death as the great question.
Is it not sad to think of it?
I often thought that the people of the past lived and felt exactly as we of today.
Whenever I read their writings I felt this way and was seized with its pathos.
It is cool comfort to say that life and death are different phases of the same thing and that a long span or life or a short one does not matter.
Alas! The people of the future will look upon us as we look upon those who have gone before us.
Hence I have recorded here those present and what they said.
Ages may pass and times may change, but the human sentiments will be the same.
I know that future readers who set their eyes upon these words will be affected in the same way.
The Gentleman of the Five Willow Trees
By Tao Qian (Tao Yuanming, 365-427)
I don't know where this gentleman was born and I am not sure of his name, but beside his house were five willow trees, from w hich he took
his nickname. He was of a placid disposition and rarely spoke. He had no envy of fame or fortune. He was fond of reading, without puzzling
greatly over difficult passages. When he came across something to his liking he would be so delighted he would forget his mea ls. By nature he
liked wine but being poor could not always come by it. Knowing the circumstances, his friends and relatives would invite him over when they
had wine. He could not drink without emptying his cup, and always ended up drunk, after which he would retire, unconcerned ab out what
might come. He lived alone in a bare hut, which gave no adequate shelter against rain and sun. His short coat was torn and patched, his
cooking pots were frequently empty, but he was unperturbed. He used to write poems for his own amusement, and in them can be seen
something of what he thought. He had no concern for worldly success, and so he ended his days.