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Art of the Mud Man - by Myron Reddings
http://www.artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=527
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Author:  Myron Redding [ Tue Jun 06, 2006 8:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Wesley Bradshaw wrote:
I really don't think that is the famous immortal "Iron Crutch Li". Iron crutch started out life as a young, beautiful and upright man, very proud and vein. Then one night trusting his student to awaken him from a meditation he became disfigured and was left with only one viable leg. The student was supposed to wait and awaken the master, unfortunately the student left and the master was unable to reach his own body in time and was forced to use an old discarded corpse from a near by grave yard. All of the images of the Immortal Li are of a very ugly and twisted man with an obvious crutch supporting a useless leg. A quick Google search of " The 8 Great Immortals" will get you some quick info and images of Iron Crutch Li, also there are some books available on the subject of Chinese immortals by authors such as Eva Wong for further reference.

May I first say that Google has absolutely nothing as far as information on mudmen are concerned, with a few exceptions of what I have published on line, and often repeated on other web pages.

The Asian representatives of the 8 immortals are ecleptic from an artistic point of view, symbolism is the clue to understanding what a mud figure represents, there are no absolute standard models of any given immortal figure because each one is presented according to the artist's symbolic viewpoint from the diverse cultural areas of China, in other words no two figures are ever alike, the figure "Iron Crutch Li" is most always in possession of a "crutch and a gourd" in whatever manifestation the image created is perceived by the sculptor, in all respects the figure is often lame as represented by the crutch and in the body of a beggar represented by an olden aged bearded man.... you have given us a fine link to ponder, excellent information for a collector of Asian art, however the line drawing illustrations provided are not mud figures, and my original reference is to a common export Chinese mud figure representing Li Ti Kuai, which it faithfully does. If you happen to have an original Chinese mud figure which best represents your viewpoint , It would be great if you would publish a photo here in the Gallery.

Thanks,
Myron

Author:  Will Heath [ Tue Jun 06, 2006 9:25 am ]
Post subject: 

Myron,
Thank you for clarifying this point for us, it is appreciated.

Will

Author:  Wesley Bradshaw [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:34 pm ]
Post subject: 

Myron,
You may very well be correct, and I am not arguing it isn't Iron Crutch. It is just I have never seen or heard of Li being depicted as a robed man walking upright. The whole point and lesson of Iron Crutch Li is to teach and remind us not to be vain, that how good you look has nothing to do with ascending to the heavens or a quality moral fiber. I based the assessment I posted above from my "hands-on" background of formally studying Taoist and Buddhist history, so it is rather odd I would not recognize the famous Iron Crutch Li. The second picture MikeP shared with us of him is in my opinion a much more accurate depiction of the character and holds true to the original tales and figurines I am familiar with. My collection of the great 8 unfortunatly is not made from clay but rather of wood, Li is not depeicted as the upright mud man version presented here but rather as the lamed cripple.

As far as the Google search and my link is concerned I offered that as a quick reference for those interested to browse a few examples of the character. By comparing the images of him from antique paintings and sketches that are available you can see why someone would question the ID of the mud figure MikeP has presented. Thanks for the reply.

Author:  Myron Redding [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Wesley Bradshaw wrote:
It is just I have never seen or heard of Li being depicted as a robed man walking upright.

Hi Wesley,
Mud figures in general seldom portray exact portraits of the standard Chinese mythological figures they represent. The attributes are generalized to give some symbolism that identifies the character, however simple that may be. In the Li Ti Kuai instance, the symbol could be as simple as a single crutch. To give a reference to this matter, General Chung Li Chuan is traditionally portrayed with a long beard, fat bare belly and feathered fan. I have seen these mud figures fully robed, plain and lacking any ornamentation at all, yet it is understood to be a representation of the General by the attitude of the characterization, the same applies to Ho Shien Ku, sometimes portrayed with or without her symbol the lotus flower, Lan Tsai Ho with or without his flower basket, Tsao Kuo Chiu is often portrayed in court dress only lacking his traditional jade tablet or castanets. I have photo references that verify each difference, but unfortunately I am unable to share them at this time, they are part of an extensive photo collection that define separate chapters of an as of yet unpublished book still in the writing phase.
Wesley Bradshaw wrote:
As far as the Google search and my link is concerned I offered that as a quick reference for those interested to browse a few examples of the character. By comparing the images of him from antique paintings and sketches that are available you can see why someone would question the ID of the mud figure MikeP has presented. Thanks for the reply.

Yes I understand, thanks for your reply as well,
Myron

Author:  Wesley Bradshaw [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:34 am ]
Post subject: 

Myron,
While reading your recent article and the discussion threads regarding it I was thinking how nice it would be if there was a reference book of sorts including the cultural history and "folk tales" connected to most of the figures we see being depicted through mudmen, as well as the other factors we use to judge them like where, and how they were made, conditions etc.. . It sounds like the upcoming book will be a great aid to us. I was truly surprised when I first entered the world of bonsai and discovered the intricate characters of Chinese folk lore were being used.

I haven't knowingly run into the different depictions of the more famous figures being used like the immortals before, an example like Mike P's version of Li here I usually will label as just a generalized depiction of a Taoist sage. Finding the old finger molded types are a rare catch in my area, I wouldn't mind getting a few pics together and see if you can offer me any extra details for the "unknown" collectible mud figures I do have.
Thanks.

Author:  Myron Redding [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Wesley Bradshaw wrote:
Myron,
While reading your recent article and the discussion threads regarding it I was thinking how nice it would be if there was a reference book of sorts including the cultural history and "folk tales" connected to most of the figures we see being depicted through mudmen, as well as the other factors we use to judge them like where, and how they were made, conditions etc.. . It sounds like the upcoming book will be a great aid to us. I was truly surprised when I first entered the world of bonsai and discovered the intricate characters of Chinese folk lore were being used.
I wouldn't mind getting a few pics together and see if you can offer me any extra details for the "unknown" collectible mud figures I do have.
Thanks.

Hi Wesley,
I am working on what is basically a " mudman collectors guide", the book identifies the more commonly available export mud figures from 1869 Thu 1938, though I do touch on some of the unusual, the majority of photos are from my own private collection with some images borrowed from other collectors around the country, Chinese symbolism and mythology are the main focus as referenced exclusively through the mud figures.
I will be doing maintenance on this computer and it will be down for a few days, I will be back on line by the weeks end to help identify your mudmen, thanks for your reply.
Myron.

Author:  Myron Redding [ Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:48 am ]
Post subject: 

hi Guys,
I'm back online, thanks Myron.

Author:  Will Heath [ Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:16 am ]
Post subject: 

For those who are interested there is a good article in Bonsai Today issue #95 by Randy Clark titled "Bonsai and Figurines" which covers not only the traditional figurines but also some uniquely western ones as well.

Will

Author:  Mike Page [ Thu Feb 22, 2007 4:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Chinese figurine for the "Year of the Pig"

My wife bought me a Chinese figurine in honor of the Chinese "Year of the Pig".
There's a store in my town that sells Chinese artifacts, and has a large variety of collector quality figurines, of which this is one, as the image I post will show.
My next task will be to work up a 3 element display using this piece.
Mike

Attachments:
boar_2.jpg
boar_2.jpg [ 57.79 KiB | Viewed 8115 times ]

Author:  Will Heath [ Thu Feb 22, 2007 11:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

Mike, I must confess that I really like this piece!

Author:  Mike Page [ Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Will Heath wrote:
Mike, I must confess that I really like this piece!

He is a charming little fellow!

Author:  Mike Page [ Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

For my birthday, my sister-in-law went to my favorite Chinese store here in town and bought this figurine to add to my collection.
Mike

Attachments:
mud1.jpg [51.03 KiB]
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Author:  Dorothy Schmitz [ Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:13 am ]
Post subject: 

Mike,
this one is neat!I like it.
Happy birthday!!
-dorothy

Author:  Mike Page [ Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Mudman Display

The image is a simple display using a mudman and a flowering euphorbia (?) planted in a container made with pieces of slate cemented together.
Mike

Attachments:
garden_rs.jpg [65.43 KiB]
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Author:  Richard Moquin [ Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:41 am ]
Post subject: 

It just goes to show Mike that mudmen do have their place in this passion of ours. Nicely done and in perspective.

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