ISC Echoes The Chinese Statue : the journey of the statue


The Chinese Statue

Question: Narrate the journey of the Chinese Statue in the story of same name by Jeffrey Archer.

Answer :  ‘The Chinese Statue’ by Jeffrey Archer told the story of a Chinese statue who is a reference to the statue of Emperor Kung of Ming dynasty.

          The statue for some five hundred years was with the family of Yung Lee, who belonged to a family of craftsmen.

       When Sir Alexander Heathcote, the British Man to China met Yung Lee in the village of Ha Li Chuan, he was enthralled to see his work. The narrator says –
“The minister could have happily settled down in the orgy of ivory for at least a week.”

         Yung Lee, was so impressed to see Sir Alexander’s knowledge and his love for Ming dynasty’s art, that he showed him a statue of Emperor Kung.
 “Sir Alexander’s mouth opened wide and he could not hide his excitement.” 

    The author further described the statue –
” The little statue ,no more than six inches in height, was of the Emperor Kung and as fine an example of Ming as 5he minister had seen.” 

          The only blemish of the statue was that it’s ivory base was missing. But “in the eyes of Sir Alexander nothing could detract from its overall beauty.”

     Sir Alexander was so fascinated by the beauty of the statue that he could not stop himself to utter-
“How I wish the piece was mine .”

        The statue had been in the family of the craftsman for over seven generations. But being a deep follower of the old Chinese  tradition that “if an honoured guest requests something the giver will grow in the eyes of his fellow men by parting with it.”

      He decided to gift the statue to Sir Alexander, Yung Lee  fixed a base from his own collection of bases.

      To pay the gratitude towards the generosity of the craftsman, Sir Alexander got him built a house on the hills, where he wanted to be settled for the rest of his life.

     After completing his term in China, Sir Alexander got retired and settled in Yorkshire, London. There ” the statue occupied the centre of the  mantelpiece in the drawing room for all to see and admire. ” 

         Sir Alexander was so possessed about the statue and wanted  it to remain in his family so he made a will. He bequeathed the statue to his eldest son and requested him to do the same so that the statue would always pass to the eldest son or daughter and he made a provision that the statue would never be disposed of unless the family’s honour was at stake.

       After Sir Alexander, the Statue came into possession of Major James Heathcote who placed it in the dining room of regimental mess at Halifax. When he became Colonel of Dukes, the Emperor stood proudly on the table alongside the trophies won at various wars. After his retirement, the Emperor came back again on mantelpiece in the drawing-room of his Yorkshire’s house.

    After Colonel James Heathcote, the Emperor passed to his son Reverend Alexander Heathcote, he placed the Ming Emperor on the mantelpiece of the vicarage. When he became the Bishop, the Emperor then found its  way into the Bishop’s palace.

       After Bishop Heathcote, the statue passed this son Captain James Heathcote and once  again placed in the dining hall of the regimental mess at Halifax.

       After Captain James Heathcote’s untimely demise, the little Emperor came into possession of his two year old son Alex Heathcote. Hence the little Emperor reached the mantelpiece in his Cadogan Gardens flat.

        Alex Heathcote, being an irresponsible young man, when faced with financial crisis, decided to sell the statue and took it to Sotheby’s Auction House. There the statue has been given the specimen number Lot 103 and placed for an auction.

     At last the statue was bought by the narrator for seven hundred and twenty guineas and from then it was become the property of the narrator.

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