Sculpture is one of the oldest forms of art, even before cave wall painting and hieroglyphics, humans began shaping things from stone. Before the classical era of ancient Greece, three-dimensional forms created from stone, otherwise known as stone sculpture, were generally made from limestone, sandstone, gypsum, alabaster, jade or clay. It wasn’t until around the 8th century BC, at the time of the beginning of the ancient Greek Empire was marble used regularly.
DaNang, Vietnam, is known for the Marble Mountains and marble sculpture and marble carving crafts. Once the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Champa, DaNang is the home of the Museum of Cham Sculpture, the largest collection of Cham art in the world. “Monumental in size, exquisite in detail, ” wrote Susan Brownmiller in the New York Times, “Cham art is an eclectic mix of Hindu deities and legends that gradually incorporated Buddhist themes as the Cham underwent a religious conversion.” Many traditions and marble carvings from ancient ruins and marble statuary such as Ganesh are copied to this day in DaNang.
The Marble Mountains are a group of five limestone and marble hills containing cave networks and tunnels in the Ngu Hanh Son region of Vietnam. Jutting up dramatically from the ground, the Marble Mountains dominate the landscape and became a spiritual destination. Although mining in the Marble Mountains recently ended, artisans and sculptors continue to work in the area and import their marble from other regions of Vietnam and East Asia to be used for marble statuary and marble sculpture. Buddhist followers built temples and shrines at the summits and in the caves, and the Buddhist sanctuaries found within make the mountains a popular tourist destination.
Marble from Vietnam is known for its wide range of amazing colors in its natural state. Luxurious indoor and outdoor furniture, garden sculpture, garden statuary, and home decor pieces, in shades ranging from grey to gold, pink with yellow, red with grey and white, brown, and back and white stripes, are made by the master craftspeople in DaNang.
Vietnamese artists working with crystallized white marble create the highly polished religious statuary you see here at tradeshows and in warehouses. The energy of the marble is very strong, yet light. The artists channel their own energy into carving resulting in magnificent, beautiful statuary. Each statue is handmade and hand-chiseled; even the filing is done with a pencil and sandpaper. The symbolism is depicted in how the deity is portrayed – the placement of the hands or whether sitting or standing – each deity receiving the energy of the carver.
China’s Hebei and Tianjin Provinces, like DaNang in Vietnam, are known for marble sculptures and artisan craftsmanship. Buddhism had a huge impact on Chinese art, and Buddhist marble statuary is one of China’s most distinctive visual art forms. Chinese Buddhism differs from other Buddhist teachings in the belief that Buddha is not just a teacher who taught followers what to do, but a God to be prayed to for help and salvation.
The “Laughing Buddha” has been the most common and most popular depiction of Buddha in China for centuries. Chinese Buddhists’ main goal in life is to “be happy”, and it’s for this reason that depictions of Buddha in China show him as being fat and laughing, or smiling. Budai, the Happy Buddha, is depicted as carrying his few possessions in a cloth sack, being poor but content. He brought abundance, fortune, and joy to all he encountered with the help of his mystical “cloth sack” bag. He would entertain and give candy to the adoring children that followed him and was known for patting his large belly happily. Budai is known in the USA market as giving wealth, good luck, and prosperity when you rub his belly. His figure appears throughout Chinese culture as a representation of both contentment and abundance.
Chinese carvers working with marble/mica and Ironstone create beautiful pieces of antique brown and grey color. Ironstone is a hard rock that makes a “tink” sound when tapped with metal. Made from 3 billion-year-old rock you can see the cell formations on the stone, these carvings have very strong deep energy.
Buddhist marble sculpture is created by specially trained and dedicated artisans who follow meticulous guidelines that dictate each detail of the Buddha. These strict cultural guidelines add to the uniqueness of the statue and reflect the country of origin. The creation of an artwork is a very time-consuming process and requires a great deal of experience and skill. The artisan carefully studies the stone making note of minute features. They have the feel of knowing where on the stone to start the carving – that the flow of the stones matches the carving. The study alone within itself can take days They mostly copy Tibetan, Japanese, Chinese dynasty style marble carvings from museums or artifacts. Each streak and hollow is analyzed before work is commenced. It is a divinely-inspired skill.
Michal & Company works with only a very select few artisans in Vietnam and China to offer exquisite marble and stone statuary, stone sculpture, gemstone carvings, and mineral carvings. We are known for our Eastern religious statuary featuring Buddha, Quan Yin, and Ganesh, but also offer many other types of statues and carvings, free form “Surrender” and Mother Mary to name two.
So many beautiful deities, from Quan Yin and Mother Mary teaching us compassion, love, humility and say yes to surrendering to a higher power. Buddha teaching the way to higher understanding and enlightenment, Ganesh which helps us go through obstacles and move forward to living a conscious lifestyle.
We at Michal & Company devote time to hand select each piece we ship to the USA. There are limited carvings of each style – typically only one piece for each style and size from Vietnam.
Michal & Company offers high end, beautiful pieces that add Zen spirit to any natural landscape and calming indoor and outdoor décor. Whether it is marble sculptures, garden statuary, hand-carved gemstones, mineral carvings – you name it we have it and we will get it – we help you find your heart’s desire.
Marble and Feng Shui
Marble is a favorite stone among Feng Shui practitioners because it is an earth element. Earth represents trust, nutrition, strength, durability, and stability, and it provides a base for the rest of the elements. Using marble in your home or business brings these qualities to your environment and can be done in so many different forms, from marble statuary, to garden statuary, fountains, tabletops, and tiles, on the floor to balance ungrounded energy to the countertops to balance with water. Using marble as an earth element in design and decoration enhances the harmony of Feng Shui.
Healing and Metaphysical Properties
Marble has strong metaphysical qualities of grounding and calming, provides for self-control and mastery of thought. Throughout antiquity and in modern times, marble was the defining element in prominent public structures like civic buildings and libraries. It’s no wonder that marble sculpture is found in the hallowed halls of academia and justice. Marble also enhances the powers of serenity, which makes it a soothing meditation stone, helping with a positive focus to bring about physical and emotional health. Marble statuary found in places of worship worldwide are often consecrated objects with divine purpose.
Welcoming guests is the most important aspect of any entrance. It is also the key area to invite in and keep the Chi, the vital energy, flowing through your home. Place marble statuary at the entry points of your home, both inside and outside, for a beautiful first impression.
Kitchens are representative of sustenance, nourishment, prosperity, and wealth in Feng Shui. Marble tiles and backsplashes bring the earth element into it being both practical and beautiful. Bathroom marble countertops bring serenity and harmony by balancing the earth with water.
Marble fireplaces in the living room or den make a beautiful focal point and balances the fire element with the earth element.
The dining room represents the personal energy flow and body, heart and spirit renewal since nourishment is vital to our health and well-being. The earth element encourages us to dwell in our bodies, thus promoting good digestion. A marble tabletop or buffet provides a place for preparing and sharing meals.