While in Shanghai I visited the Hand-printed Blue Nankeen Exhibition Hall where I bought my only treasure from China; a small Cloth Tiger made from blue nankeen fabric. I named him Max!
Nankeen cloth is a type of Chinese batik using blue indigo dye. It has a beautiful simplicity and refinement. The four simple marks stitched on Max’s forehead are significant. This character originates from the brow of Tigers, and because the Tiger is known as the ‘King of Beasts’ it means King. The Tiger denotes yin or earth.
Max’s simple ‘Cloth Tiger’ form has been made (more or less) in this way since ancient times. His features capture the essential qualities of the Tiger without being a direct representation. This is in keeping with the essence of Chinese traditional art following the principle “unworthy to be similar in shape, worthy to be similar in spirit.”