Print this page

Fu 2

Faces From Ancient Times



A winterly grove

Sometimes an echo sounds

Like from old times.





Reflections of a time long gone by. If these faces could tell stories, what would they be?




Who it was who created them, in what noble house or temple they once were located, what they saw arise and go by?



It's a challenge for your imagination, since they have always been silent. But handy they were, back then as much as today. They are head-shaped handles on old bonsai pots and water bowls.  Their embossed shape made the vessel easier to grasp with the fingers, especially for larger bowls, and less likely to slip from the hands.





These handles on bonsai pots and other vessels are mostly bat heads. Unlike in our culture, where bats are considered eerie and symbols of doom, they are one of the most prominent lucky symbols in China. A bat is called Fu in Chinese, and Fu also means luck.




The bat symbol is often combined with the symbol of longevity on pots. In the course of time the bat heads gained a more and more human appearance, only their ears are reminiscent of their animal origin.



These are tell-tale faces, sometimes wise, resting in themselves, sometimes smiling whimsically. They are always faces from ancient times. I wonder what they want to tell us?


Peter Krebs


All pots from the collection of Paul Lesniewicz.


Photographs: Bernd Braun


Head-shaped handles by Peter Krebs, reproductions from original pots.

Translation: Stefan Ulrich

Previous page: Metamorphosis
Next page: Tree philosophy 1-4