Page:Inside Canton.djvu/122

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The leaves which formed festoons oa the exterior, the curling vine, and the bamboo stalks which formed the handles, seemed to have been cast in lava which had become solidified on a luxuriant vegetation, of which it had preserved the impression after having reduced it to ashes. The Chinese bronzes deserve a special historian to give us the means of determining their ages, and to teach us how to distinguish the works of the masters from those of their clever imitators. It is probable that this gap will be filled, as Callery is engaged upon a work which will treat particularly of the arts in China.

The artistic genius of the Chinese is particularly evinced in those cases where constant application and great manual precision are necessary; difficulty overcome being, in the eyes of the children of the Land of Flowers, the principal merit in a work of art. A poor workman, who gains but a few francs a day, shut up in a garret or in the dark corner of a shop, is absorbed in his work, and early accustoms himself unhesitatingy to improvise subjects, which one of our most skilful artists would hardly dare to attempt. The consequence of this habitual boldness is, that a metal worker or wood engraver works with great ease. On a silver cup, between two knots on a bamboo stick, on the uneven horns of stags or oxen, they carve groups of people, animals, fruits, plants, and landscapes, the designs for which originally ex-