Silver raft

by Chu Pi-shan
Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1279-1368) Height: 15.2 cm Length: 19.8 cm

As the legend goes, Chang Ch'ien, the Hart-dynasty statesman, took a boat and traveled down the Yellow River until he reached tire "Silver River" or "Heavenly River" (the Milky Way). This story contains the interesting notion that the Yellow River is a prolongation of the Milky Way on Earth. Chang Ch'ien is often represented riding a raft in the form of a hollow log, such as this version in silver. He holds in his hand a stone shuttle inscribed with the characters chih-chi, given to him when he met the Spinning Maid (the star Vega) by the side of the "Silver River." The hollow log can also serve as a cup; on its underside are inscribed a poem, a date in the Chih-cheng reign (A.D. 1345) and the name Chu Pi-shan who was a well-known silversmith in the late Yuan period.

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