Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Several years ago I read one of the Chinese Classical works of literature, Journey to the West written by Wu Cheng'en in the sixteenth century. The story has been enjoyed and repeated in many diffferent forms and formats over the last four hundred years or so. Many know the story as the monkey king because a monkey is the main character of the book. The book is over eighteen hundred pages long divided into three individual books. It took me over three weeks to read all three books but I enjoyed every minute of it. Journey to the West has had so many commentators and interpreters that there is little that I could add that has not already been said.

My contribution or homage to Journey to the West is the carving that I did after I read the book. I call it Three Warriors: Monkey, Pig and The Sandman. This carving is another in my series of carvings from reclaimed roots of privet hedges. This one was interesting in the way it came about. When I started working with the wood I had no particular intention, direction or idea in mind. I just started cleaning the bark off the root and removing the broken bits that would not amount to anything. At first I worked the wood in the same orientation that it would be in the ground, that is root down. At some point, I turned the wood upside down and then it hit me, the pig warrior from Journey to the West. i saw the piece complete in that moment. Once I was inspired by that idea then the carving took on a direction and purpose. I completed the carving of the pig then I thought I wanted to represent monkey as well. When I looked at the back of the pig carving I realized that I could do another carving, one of monkey. That spawned a lot of activity to complete the carving of monkey. After I finished pig and monkey I decided that I had to work sandman somewhere into the carving. What I did was turn the carving upright again and make sandman an extension of pig's ear. Sandman is the most amorphous of the carvings because sandman was like that, never really adopting any one shape. So there you have it, three warriors in one carving.

This view shows Pig in front and you can see part of Monkey in the back of the carving.

This view shows Monkey. that piece that is extending outward is Monkey's arm.

This is a good view that shows the portion of the carving that is the sandman. 

I had a lot of fun creating this piece. I put a lot of my thoughts and images of the book into this carving. 
This carving measures approximately 12 1/2 inches high. Including the outstretched arm, it is 13 inches wide. If you consider Pig as the front and Monkey as the back then it is about 8 inches deep. The carving rests on a steel rod that is imbedded in a sandstone base, the sandstone being somewhat symbolic of Sandman. I finished the carving with tung oil and the eyes are colored glass.

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