Monday, October 30, 2006

Monkey!

While in San Francisco last week, I found myself in Chinatown. While chinatowns are not unique, I do have to say SF's is tough to beat. It's still the goto place for designer knock-offs and those ridiculously opulent furnishings, but there are also shopping gems peppered in-between.

Outside of one storefront was a guy selling carved figurines of the Lunar Calendar. They had big and small sizes, one of each beast of the Chinese Zodiac, which some of you may know I am intimately familiar with. What was cool was that the artist would ask your name or whatever, and draw out the Chinese symbol on a post-it for approval. Then he carves the thing right into the bottom of the figurine for your own custom stamp!

I had to get me a monkey (even though my personal sign is not), and I asked him for the symbol of Sun Wukong, "The Monkey King." He was all, "You like the Monkey King?" as in, "You, gweilo, know of such things?" Yes, my friend, yes I do. He proceeded to carve out the intricate stamp right there in front of me-- which I have to add, no matter how many he's done over the years, has to be admired as a work of art: He's carving it backwards after all. A minute or so later he brushes things off, grabs an ink pad and shows me an example of my new Monkey King stamp. "Xiéxie!!" A W E S O M E !!

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