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The Soul of the Tiger: Chinese Amber Carvings of the Reif Collection

May 10, 1999 - May 10, 1999

Amber is actually tree resin which has fossilized over millions of years. ??when a tiger dies, its soul penetrates the earth and becomes a stone. This object resembles amber and is called hu po (tiger?s soul).? Written by Li Shizhen in Bancao gangmu (16th century). Hu po is the Chinese word for amber and is symbolic of courage due to its association with that fierce animal.

Approximately 130 Chinese amber carvings ? as well as 15 pieces of European amber ? were donated to the AGGV by Mrs. Reif of Vancouver. These pieces were augmented by a loan of 45 more amber pieces from the Reif family. This collection of Chinese carved amber is, to the best of our knowledge, the second largest outside China.

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