Irony, play and compassion

Borrowed sensations

The substitution of an expected material by another is a common feature in literati environments. The pleasure lies in finding the right balance for the masquerade, not trying too hard to conceal the real nature of the material used in imitation of another. Actions such as these gently bring to attention the measure of artifice that lies in civilised settings.

A wall-mounted vase in dark, matte ceramic takes the form of a wood section; while marble stools have cloth wrapping carved over them.


Early 20th century
Private collection
Northern China, 19th century
Beijing market