Tag Archives: Sculpture

Faces of Abing

In the cultural history of Wuxi, Abing is a heavyweight. In many respects, he is remembered as a folk hero — here was this blind and impoverished Taoist priest roaming around Wuxi while writing and playing music on his erhu or pippa. Some of his songs were topical, and some of them are still transcendent. Not a lot of his creations were written down as sheet music, and only a few have been recorded for posterity. Imagine if somebody in America like Woody Guthrie had their body of work lost to history. Abing’s surviving compositions are now considered Chinese national and cultural treasures.

In Wuxi, his home has been preserved as a museum in his honor. Upon my last visit, I was struck by the sculptural and artistic renditions of him. Some are quite surreal.  Here are some pictures to that end.

 

 

 

Let’s start with a fairly realistic head bust for comparative value. Now, let’s move on to a selection. The following are not all of the sculpture’s at Abing’s former home. It’s just a quick sampling.

 

Most of the sculptures — and their dreamlike qualities — make Abing seem like a larger than life figure. But, then again, most folk heroes are just that: larger than life. And, the legend of a person may or may not gel exactly with who they actually were. Still, here was a Chinese musician who engaged the imaginations of his listeners. It’s only fitting that he have equally imaginative artistic renditions of his likeness.

An Artistic Prelude to Real Horror

Art does not exist solely to make people happy. It’s there to evoke emotion, and by doing that, make people think.  This is definitely the case with the statues outside the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum.  There, a series of sculptures help set a somber and sobering tone before a visitor even steps onto the premises. This is especially effective if a visitor comes on a busy national travel day. The line can be long to get in, and a visitor is forced to stare at these metal figures and the bilingual captions that came with them. That said, even though it does the proper mood, nothing can actually prepares you for the horror of historical relics and displays of the Japanese slaughtering 300,000 people.