ISC The Chinese Statue Workbook Answer
How does the story ‘The Chinese Statue’ explore the theme of appearance versus reality?
The Chinese Statue’ is a story by Jeffrey Archer about a statue of Emperor Kung which was brought to London by Sir Alexander from China. The story begins with the process of auctioning an old statue of Ernperor Kung, which appears to be a masterpiece of Ming dynasty art ends with the revelation of the reality of the statue.
Sir Alexander Heathcote had a deep interest in the art of the Ming dynasty the ruling dynasty of China between 1368 and 1644. So, when he was appointed is an Ambassador to China, he took it as an opportunity to explore more details about Ming dynasty’s artistic works such as their sculpture, paintings and drawings, Which he had hitherto read in the books only.
During one of his joumey’s in the countiyside, he came across an artist’s Workshop. When he went inside his workshop, he was highly delighted to See beautiful samples of art. When he talked to the craftsman, it was discovered by the craftsman that Sir Alexander was a lover of art. So, he brought from his house, an old statue of Emperor Kung, which had been in his family for over seven generations. When Sir Alexander saw that statue he felt confident that the statue must have been made by the great artist Pen Q, who had been patronised by the Emperor. He even calculated its time-period and suggested that it must have been made around the turn of the 15th century. The only blemish which he found in the statue was that its base was missing. But Sir Alexander was so overtaken by its beauty that he could not hide his desire to have the statue. The craftsman fixed the base of the statue from his collection of bases and gifted it to Sir Alexander, though with a heavy heart for it was his heirloom.
In order to pay back the craftsman, Sir Alexander conducted an extensive research to find the true value of the statue. He came across a drawing of a Ming statue that was almost an exact copy of the statue he had received from the craftsman. From that he calculated the exact value of the statue that came almost three years emolument for a British civil servant. So he contacted his bankers in London and requested them to send a large part of his savings to Peking. He also employed his Mandarin to find out the details about the craftsman. The Mandarin found that the craftsman was Yung Lee, who belonged to an old and trusted family of artists. Yung Lee, who was growing old wanted to settle down in the hills above his village where his ancestors had aways died. Sir Alexandet repaid the craftsman by gifting him a beautiful house, which he got constructed for him on the hills.
Sir Alexander on completing his term in China, brought the statue with him to London and kept it in his drawing room for all to see and admire. In fact, Sir Alexander was so fond of this piece of art that he wanted it to remain with his family. So in his will, he bequeathed the statue to his eldest son. He made a provision that it should be passed on to the next generations and nobody would be able to sell it, except if the family’s honour was at stake.
The statue, regarded as the heirloom of Heathcotes, remained with the descendants of Sir Alexander for over a hundred years. His latest descendant, Alex Heathcote, when faced with financial crisis, decided to sell it and took it to Sotheby’s Auction House. The head of the Oriental Department at Sotheby’s by having just a cursory glance was confident that the statue was the work of Pen Q. However, later on it was discovered that the statue was fake, probably about two hundred and fifty years old, a copy of the original. It was worth only seven hundred and twenty guineas. However, the base which the craftsman casually fixed on the statue, turned out to be a genuine piece of art, worth twenty~two thousand guineas.
So, the Chinese Statue, which appeared to be a genuine piece of art belonging to the Ming dynasty, in reality turned out to be an imitation of the original.
ISC Echoes Notes