[ca. 1990?] · China
Classical Chinese poetry in calligraphed format: This tiny rectangle of ivory (only about 4mm tall) is impossibly delicately etched with both the Chinese original and Fletcher's English translation of Wang Wei's Tang Dynasty-era poem "Xiang Si" (given here as "Love Seeds"). The xiang si bean (Abrus precatorius) is a Chinese symbol of love and longing; its small, shiny, red seeds were used as tokens of love, hence the reference in this poem: "The red bean grows in southern lands / With spring its slender tendrils twine / Gather for me some more, I pray / Of fond remembrance 'tis the sign."
Additionally, both the Chinese and English texts are presented on a folded slip of paper, with additional commentary in Chinese characters only.
The ivory is mounted within a black frame affixed to a small square of gold paper, on red velvet, and contained in a beautiful, eminently displayable case covered in olive-green silk with a woven Asian-inspired knotwork pattern in bronze and blue, decorated with a Chinese-printed label on the front cover. The case closes with a fabric loop and white-painted wooden toggle. Box as above, showing the faintest hint of rubbing to one corner, overall in excellent condition. Small compartment beneath presentation window seems to indicate a long slender item was at one point laid in, but it is difficult to say what that might have been. (Inventory #: 30544)