Circular tsuba, made of iron. It has two holes in the middle. Two figures, Kanzan and Jittoku, are carved on the lower right corner. Kanzan, who holds a scroll on his hand, and Jittoku, who holds a bloom stick and pointing to the sky, are looking upward. The two figures are carved slightly higher than the surface. On the back, there is the moon partially obscured by clouds. Gold and silver alloy inlays are applied to the moon and the clouds. Gold is also inlayed in their eyes, parts of the garments, and Kanzan's scroll. Shakudô (copper-gold alloy) is inlayed in Jittoku's bloom and his jacket collars.
Kanzan and Jittoku are Taoist eccentrics of whom little is known, but they are frequently represented (almost always together) in East Asian arts. Both lived in the monastery of Kuo Ching, spending most of their time in the kitchen, and speaking a gibberish unintelligible to anyone, resenting visitors, and noticing them only with insults. Kanzan holds a scroll, which he expounds to Jittoku, who stands by leaning on his broom. Both have a dwarfed and somewhat boyish appearance, but Kanzan's face is furrowed by age. (Reference: Edmunds, Will H. Pointers and Clues to the Subjects of Chinese and Japanese Art).
Though this painting was not dated, it should be most possibly painted after Chang moved to Michigan in 1974. Perhaps it is because of the cold winter, during this time, Chang created many works on landscape of snow. This is a scene of clearing after snow.
As inscribed on the painting, a good winter snow in Chinese tradition often signifies a prosperous new year. Mountains covered by snow are often praised as jade, which is an auspicious item in Chinese culture. Similar to other paintings of snow by Chang Ku-nien, the brightened landscape implies a joyful and hopeful mood of the artist.
Vertical hanging scroll of calligraphic text consisting of five Chinese characters in black ink, with artist signature and seal. One of a pair.
These two calligraphic works are done by Chang Ku-nien’s wife, Chen Shu-chen, who was an accomplished painter and calligrapher herself. Written in semi-cursive script, it demonstrates the artist’s affinity for bold and well-defined lines. The couplet of poetry, reads from right to left, praises the importance of one of China’s classics: There are many old books which have many special characters; yet only great I Ching (Book of Changes) shows us a path through past and future.
The use of light ink to depict the hills and remote mountains was to present the misty and dreamlike Dayu Mountain. Chang applied the wash to creat a sense of wet atmosphere.
The painting depicts a poetic scene in the Dayu Mountain in Taiwan. The colophon in this painting was inspired by a famous Ming dynasty literati painter--Dong Qichang (or Dong Xiangguang as used by Chang). This colophon implies a literati painting tradition of "in painting there is poetry, and in poetry there is painting" since Tang dynasty.
The Rooster is singled out by its expressive outlining brushwork and the vibrant red color of the comb. Its decorative flavor is also enhanced by using a specific type of paper called “cloud-dragon paper” (yunlong zhi), as the pattern of décor resembles motifs of cloud and dragon. Vertical calligraphic text in in the upper left corner.
This work is reminiscent of the Shanghai school both in its subject and style. Shanghai school painting, which was patronized largely by merchants, often had a strongly decorative character, combining broad calligraphic brushstrokes in ink and vivid colors. Lone Rooster has notably expressive outlining and is enlivened by areas of vibrant red. Its decorative character is enhanced by the use of “cloud-dragon paper” (yunlong zhi), the pattern of which resembles clouds and dragons. The rooster, which belonged to the traditional genre of bird-and-flower paintings popular in the Shanghai school, may have been chosen as a subject to commemorate the Chinese year of the rooster.