ISC ‘The Chinese Statue’ : aptness of the title


The Chinese Statue

Question : How appropriate is the title of the story ‘The Chinese  Statue’ ?

Answer : ‘The Chinese Statue’ is an appropriate title for the story b6 Joffrey Archer. The only object around which the plot of the story revolves is the little Chinese Statue. ‘The Chinese Statue’ is a reference to the statue of Emperor Kung of the Ming dynasty.

     The story is based on the technique of the ‘story within a story’, where the frame story involves the incident that happens at Sotheby’s Auction House. The auction of specimen  number, Lot 103 of a delicate piece of ivory is being made and the narrator is present as a bidder.  The catalogue that the narrator studied, read that the statue had been purchased in Ha Li Chuan and was ‘the property of a gentleman’.  This makes the narrator anxious to know the details about the Statue  and its owner and leads him to do  some research, which forms the content of the core story.

         The statue was originally belonged to the family  of a craftsman for over five hundred years. when Sir Alexander Heathcote,  the British Ambassador to China met Yung Lee, he was quite impressed by his vast knowledge about the artifacts of Ming dynasty. Yung Lee showed Sir Alexander the little Chinese Statue, on seeing the statue ” Sir Alexander’s mouth opened wide and he could not hide his excitement. ” 

     He had never seen such a fine example of Ming dynasty’s art and he felt ” confident that the maker was the great Pen Q who had been patronised by the Emperor “. 

    The only blemish of the statue was that the ivory base on which such pieces usually rest was missing. But Sir Alexander was so fascinated by the beauty of the statue that he could not stop himself from uttering, ” How I wish the piece was mine.”
According to the old Chinese tradition –
   “if an honoured guest requests something the giver will grow in the eyes of his fellow men by parting with it.”
     So Yung Lee, fixed a base from his collection of base and gifted it to Sir Alexander, though with a heavy heart for it was his heirloom.

    Sir Alexander reciprocated the craftsman by getting a house built for him on the hill, where the craftsman had wished to live the rest of his life.

      The statue remained in the family of Sir Alexander for generations. However, it’s latest descendant, Alex Heathcote had to sell his family’s heirloom out of financial necessity created by his reckless gambling.

    Alex believed that the statue would revive his fortune as he was sure to get more than thousand pounds by selling it. But to his utter shock, the statue turned out to be fake and could get him only seven hundred and twenty guineas.

       However, the base of the statue, a genuine piece of art proved to be more valuable than the statue itself and earned him twenty two thousand guineas. Thus, the Chinese Statue, which formed the heirloom of two families, appears to be quite an apt title for the story.

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