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chinese sacred animal box by hibbary chinese sacred animal box by hibbary
I made this the last day of metals class just to have something for critique. For a three hour endevour, it turned out rather well. The shapes represent the four sacred chinese animals, the dragon, the tortoise, the ki'lin, and the pheonix. It's just a little, tiny, lidless box.

Ah, before I get any more comments on this, I drew my sources for the four animals from a book. Two folk now say that the unicorn-type beast ought to be a tiger instead. I'm not saying that other people are wrong; the book could very well be. Or it could be either depending on where you are in the country or depending on the era you draw from. That's the way of culture. In anycase, if I'm totally off, I apologize, especially if I offend someone over it. I really didn't want to. I thought I could trust published material, but I guess not. On the matter of the tortoise, I know the oriental depiction is very different, but I decided on a more realistic one just out of artistic choice. I liked the large, positive space, and had it had that long neck in there, it would have a different shape than I wanted.
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OceanSpiritDragon Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Nice. I like how the metal turned out to look rather old/tarnished/splotched, was that a property of the metal or something else?

Well, just my 2 cents, but there are two beast... Patheons, I guess. The ones having a gripe about the qilin/tiger thing are probably thinking of the more well-known Four Gods ((even then, white tiger gets replaced by qilin sometimes!)) rather then the "Gentleman Beasts," which seem to be depicted here. If the book mentioned constellations, then it's probably 4 Gods.
... Plus, the Vermillion Sparrow, contrary to popular belief, is NOT a phoenix.
Alislam274 Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
this is really cool
i recently started a metal shop class and its such an intimidating experience =/ 
may i ask how you were able to make such smooth and detailed cuts? i really want to learn how to do that 
hibbary Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Professional General Artist
Being as this was my first big project I'm sure I just broke dozens of jewelry blades. :D    I think for this one I rolled out my metal to slightly thinner than whatever thickness  we got in the campus store and then fully annealed it for very easy sawing. The metal just cut like butter. You can harden up the metal after it's been constructed. 
GoGo-T-W Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011   Traditional Artist
This is lovely. It looks like it would make a good candle votive.
Wyrdhaven Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
As a metalworker myself, I have to say that this is really good, and lovely to boot.
(Those are not always the same thing. Plenty of "good" work is ugly. This is not.)

Regardless of the theoretical accuracy of the symbolism, I feel that you got the concept across very well, and I envy your ability to work through the design (drawing the outlines) phase so quickly.

Also - For cryin' out loud, would it kill people to read either the artist comments or maybe three other posts? Yeesh. The idea that it "should have been a tiger!" is NOT new. Wow.
How do you not completely freak out at people on a regular basis?
Myct Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2008
erm... the four sacred animal are dragon, tortoise, phoenix and " tiger ". Kylin is not one of them...
kazminya Featured By Owner May 22, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
they look cool. put a tea light candle in 'em and boom you got nifty holders...:)
superpower-pnut Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2007
Feh. A Ki'rin was a sacred beast in it's own right-it's said that one walked by an emperor as he meditated, compelling him to copy the markings on it's back, thus creating chinese calligraphy
AiMeiLing Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2006
Waaa...pretty I want them haha ^^"
Nikki9Tails Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2006  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
But i'm usually wrong ^-^ the design is still so very stunning. love it
Nikki9Tails Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2006  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i thought the four animals were of the phoenix to the north, dragon of the east, tiger of the south and turtle of the west. It has something to do with the area protection...but i can't remember, And knowing me, this has already been said... :)
dragonspeaker Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2005  Hobbyist General Artist
That is beautiful. :)
greenfroggies Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2005   General Artist
absolutely fantastic :D
mafagafa Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2005  Professional Digital Artist
Oh thatīs soooo coooollllll!!!i wanna one of those for me!!!
hippogriffon Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2005
This is a great work ! I would like to have the same ;-)
NRock Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2005  Hobbyist General Artist
it would be really cool to stick a candle in it and turn it into a center peice on a coffee table or something.

despite historical acuracy, i like it a lot. if you don't tell anyone, i doub't that they will know about the 4 animal thing.

i would buy something like that:)
xglassdragonx Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2005
you coul use it as a candleholder! ^_^
entanglement Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2005  Professional Artisan Crafter
Oooh... lovely!
thejackbull Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2005  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It looks awesome to me. I cant believe anyone would object to it?
wickedorin Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2005  Professional General Artist
So, so lovely. The shapes and the color are just... there' ssomething about it. Magical.
AriyaSnow Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2005
2493 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2005  Professional Photographer
Ohh~they re excellent!!! Fantastic!!
lynne Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2005
It looks real nice! ^_^ Awesome job! And yeah, from what I've read, the four sacred animals are the Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix, and Tortoise. That's what I got from a published book as well; so it's always been my assumption.
feitian Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2005  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey, very nicely done. ^^
Silvermare Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2005  Hobbyist General Artist
I think the ki'lin, or chinese unicorn, is in part sacred to the Chinese because according to popular mythology, a ki'lin appeared to the mother of K'ung Fu-tzu (also known as Kongfuzi, Master Kong, and best known in the west as Confucius, 551-479 BCE) while she was pregnant with him and told her that the child she carried would be the most important teacher in the history of China. The same creature reappeared and approached Kung Fu'Tzu while he was a young and scholarly public civil servant within the Chinese government, Zhou dynasty. The young man spent many days strolling with the ki'lin and absorbed a profound amount of wisdom from it. He later recorded that wisdome in The Five Classics (History, Poetry, Rites, Changes ( I Ching ), and the Spring and Autumn Annals) and four books (The Analects, The Doctrine of Men, The Great Learning, and Mencius.) These texts are part of the foundation of Confucianism, one of three major religions in Asia alongside Daoism (or Taoism) and Buddhism.

There is no doubt in any scholars mind that K'ung Fu-tzu actually existed. The historical leader never claimed to be a god, but he was deified later, during the Han dynasty (206-221 CE), I think. Ample historical records show that he was, in deed, a civil servant during the Zhou dynasty, and that he singlehandedly brought about major reformations in the Chinese government with the highly radical ideal that government should serve the common people. The unicorn mythology was not introduced until long after his death and is clearly a work of pure fiction, but any creature that is held in such tight connection with such a sacred figure is also bound to be thought of as sacred.

In short, I believe your book may be correct.

The idea that the four sacred animals in ancient China were The Dragon, The Tortoise, The Phoenix, and The Tiger was most recently popularized by the Japanese anime Fishugi Yuugi, better known in English speaking countries as The Mysterious Play. I am unsure of what other sources support this quartet of sacred animals in Asia, but as you said, it is likely to change according to culture and era, and the Japanese and Chinese cultures are vastly different after all.

I absolutely LOVE your design work on this! Have you considered making a mold somehow, or creating stencils with these four designs for easier mass production, and selling replicas? This is beautiful and harmonious, and something that folklorists, mythologists, and fans of Asian culture alike might want to add to their private collections.
ToddFan Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2005
Looks beautifull, something I'd have sitting in my room somewhere, love stuff like that :D
Roana Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2005
that is so cool. personaly, i think every type of mythology is fascinating, and this is just great. ive heard too that its a unicorn instead of a tiger, but who knows, im not very learned in chinese mythology. great job!!
DBZchick Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005  Hobbyist General Artist
Only 3 hours? I think I spent that on this ugly, roughed out pendant for a necklace I did in 12th grade. Anyway, this is gorgeous! I love the animals on the sides. You should be proud. ^_^
pdRydia Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
If I met you in person, and you had that in your hand, and said:

"Hey, wanna buy a metal box? Made it myself."

I probably would, despite needing to spend money on other things. : (

Trying to pick the side I like best, but they're all pretty spiffy. You did well on this!
Catlikereflexes Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005   Photographer
The metalwork is superb, except for a little warping above the tortoise. Is that intentional? Also, the photos look slightly out of focus. For a macro photo like this, consider adjusting aperture for greater depth of field.
I know, the deviation is the box, not the photo. Kudos on your outstanding job.
Tanobis Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
just three hours? My God, the sawing is absolutely amazing. Kudos to you for that alone!

As for subject matter - I'm not very well-read on Chinese culture, but as you said, it's all temporary anyway. I like it.

Very nice work, and congrats on being chosen as today's fave!
TomSchmitt Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
i like the turtle one
guitarist-417 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
Awesome. Its a great piece, I absolutely adore it. :love: I would buy one.

-mam :cowtwo:
Kiriska Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
I would pay money for one of those, bigger maybe - it's just neat. And very interesting idea.
DekeNicki Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
Wow, I like this a lot! It only took you 3 hours to do this? Wow. *breaths* This is really great. Good job!
Ylle Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
Neat neat neat!!
ClemiKinkajou Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I did a lot of research on mythical creatures.....the Ki'lin was said to be the basis of the unicorn of today...a lot of books say a lot of different things. The one I saw the most was a wolf-like animal with a single horn growing out of it's head. I don't think any one can know for sure though.
Silvermare Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2005  Hobbyist General Artist
I think the root of the unicorn we know and love today in the west, the equine like unicorn, depends entirely on the source, and whether the book was written by a member of the Asian or Western culture. Authors from both cultures tend to have egocentric, geocentric, and biased views on the matter, and will claim the source that most praises their own culture, as befits basic human nature, really.

I have seen books that say the modern unicorn has its root in the Persian Karkadann, which is also a unicorn and vastly different from the gentle and benevolent ki'lin. The Karkadann was said to have been one of the most ferocious and most bloodthirsty beasts of all time despite the fact that it was a vegetarian in many stories, and that even bull elephants feared it, for it was large enough to gore a bull elephant and toss it over its head like a rag doll. It was very territorial and hot tempered, and charged with little provocation. It could only be tamed by the song of a bird, and the species of this bird, Nightengale or Ring Dove or something else, changes according to era, subculture, and author. The only thing the Karkadann feared was the Roc, or giant eagle. The Karkadann actually most closely resembled the animal we know of as the rhinoceros in both appearance and attitude. Another myth that used to be very popular claims that Bucephalus, the feirce black stallion of Alexander the Great, was a Karkadann that was gentle and loyal toward its master, but gored enemy soldiers in battle.

Of course, still other sources claim the plausible explanation that the western unicorn evolved from stories told by travellers who had seen the rhinoceros, ibex, and other exotic horned creatures in profile from a distance, and that artistic renditions of these travellers tales were drawn by people who had never seen them at all, but believed the stories, and based their looks entirely on those oral stories with natural physiological references to creatures that they were more familiar with. Thus a rhino might become a heavy draft horse with a curved horn on its snout and a lion tail, and a gazelle or other such creature might become a deer or goatlike creature with a single spiraling horn, and over time these two types might have been consolidated into a horselike creature with a long spiraling horn and unicorn tail, etc. Narwhal tusks clearly provided the basis for the unicorn horn in popular belief at some point, as is seen in a vast variety of sculptures of unicorns with the narwhal tusk for its horn, the "unicorn horn" throne made from narwhal tusks, and the fact that narwhal tusks were traded directly in the apothecary markets under the pretentious title "unicorn horns" or "alicorns". This also seems to support the view that the unicorn is a misinterpretation and/or misrespresentation of existent exotic animals. Surely, the people who collected the narwhal tusks for this trade knew the truth, but capitalized on popular misinformation, and perhaps even promoted this misinformation for the sake of profit.

Actually, the most intriguing tale of unicorn sightings that I have ever heard comes from the American west. It has been claimed that Lewis and Clark witnessed unicorns near the Snake River in Oregon Territory (modern day Idaho) and recorded their sightings in the origianl manuscripts of thier famous journal. I find this interesting, because if it is so, then it is the most recent original description of unicorns independent of any other mythology. Of course, this may also just be yet another tall tale of the American Wild West. What have you heard on this?
eccentricone Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
Most of the Ki'lin/Ki'rin that I have seen (researched online for sculptures, descriptions, drawings) tend to resemble this: [link] or this: [link] for a less... kawaii looking thing. It was a long long time ago when I happened upon those images, however, and now there are many MANY different images to choose from :) It's amazing how particularly inventive this species is... humans.
SailorQuatre Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2005
Inventive, yes. *nodnods all sagely* If I remember correctly, the kirin was to have had the body of a deer and the tail of an ox, and could have more than one horn. There were other aminals thrown in, but I can't remember. x.X Inventive, indeed!
ChaoseVIIn Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
Ah, very nice work...crafting metal requires skill and patience...
Yemanja Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005  Professional Digital Artist
yuki-tsukihana Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005   Traditional Artist
ah, if you were simply going for sacred beasts (which you were), than you got them right. if you were going for directions (which you didn't say), than the ki'lin would indeed be replace by a tiger, and the positions of the animals would have to be changed to represent their respected directions. but, I didn't get the impression you were going for that.
this is a really nice piece of work you've done here. how big is it? depending (or not) on it's size, this would make a very nice candle-holder, as they are usually made out of metal.
you should try mass-producing these, too ^^; if I had enough money, I would buy one
Green814 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
Awesome. You're very talented.
SailorQuatre Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
How beautiful. I, too, want this box.
Vampyrekitty Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
tarkheki Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
I absiloutly adore these designs!
As for the kirin or tiger... I think both are ok. Like you said, it depends on the culture and the time era. It still is amazing! :dance:
Kitsunehime Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
Lovely work. :clap: :clap:

Actually, I think there are five sacred animals; tiger, kirin, tortoise, dragon, and pheonix.
eveanhei Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
Oooh. that's gorgeous. I like the pebbly cast of the metal-- not sure if you had a hand in that or not.
ln452 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2005
really awesome love metalworks!!! :D
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Submitted on
January 13, 2005
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