Bamboo Wristrest Carved in Liu-qing Low Relief, 18th c.
The wristrest with a spray of plum blossom and bamboo foliage is skillfully carved in Liu-qing technique, showing the paler ochre skin to the rich reddish-brown body beneath. The elegant flower and foliage design is painterly displayed and the surface matured with lustrous patina.
Liu-qing, literally "retaining the green", is a method of carving that involved the manipulation of the contrasting colors of the smooth greenish bamboo skin and the darker and more fibrous inner layer of the stalk. In this method of carving, the upper layer of the bamboo is cut away leaving a dark background while the skin is left in relief to form the positive image. The result is a pronounced contrast between dark and light tones which is achieved through a drying process in which the green skin of the material turns into a rich light brown color while the inner layer of the worked bamboo matures into a darker lustrous brown tone.