The Chinese Statue Questions and Answers ISC Class 11 and Class 12

Short Questions

Part – 1

(a) Who was Alexander Heathcote? How did he spend his time in China?

Answer : Alexander Heathcote was a hardworking, disciplined man. He belonged to aristocracy and was held in high esteem. By dint of his capability and sincerity he progressed. He chose to serve the Queen in the diplomatic service. Gradually he became an ambassador to China. He was sent to China at the time of Empress Dowager Tzu-Hsi. Alexander Heathcote had an appreciation for Ming dynasty art although he wasn’t fortunate enough to have any of it in his collection.

Alexander was very happy at his appointment because he felt that it would give him an opportunity to observe in their natural habitat some of the great statues and paintings. His appointment was for three years. He took no leave but preferred to travel on horseback into the outlying districts to learn about the country and its people. He was always accompanied by a Mandarin who acted as an interpreter and guide.

(b) When and where did Alexander Heathcote meet young Lee, the craftsman who gave him the statue of Emperor King?

Answer : During his stay in China, Alexander used to travel on horseback into the outlying districts of China to learn about the country and its people. One such journey he visited a small village Ha Li Chuan. It was at a distance of fifty miles from Peking. Here Alexander entered a wooden workshop to admire the delicate pieces of ivory that were displayed on the shelves. He was welcomed by an old craftsman. The Mandarin explained to the old man who sir Alexander was and his desire to have a look at the specimen of craftsmanship.

Alexander studied and praised many of the pieces for their workmanship. Overjoyed by Alexander’s compliments the old craftsman took them in. He chatted with Alexander through the interpreter and soon Alexander’s love for the Ming dynasty art was revealed. The old man told them that he had a piece of ‘Ming’ himself – a statue that has been in his family for over seven generations. The old craftsman then, showed to Alexander, the little statue, hardly six inches in height, of Emperor Kung as a fine example of Ming. Its maker, Alexander thought, must have been Pen Q and the date must have been around the fifteenth century.

(c) ‘The Chinese Statue’ throws light on an important Chinese tradition. What is it? How does Alexander Heathcote honour this tradition?

Answer : The story ‘The Chinese Statue’ sheds light on an important Chinese tradition. It is a part of chinese culture. The tradition is : If an honoured guest requests something the giver will grow in the eyes of his fellow men by parting with it.”

“The Chinese Statue” illustrates this tradition. Once in Peking Alexander Heathcote meets an old craftsman Yung Lee who shows him an excellent statue of Emperor Kung made in ivory. Alexander is so much fascinated by this statue that he expresses a desire to possess it. The old craftsman is sad for a moment to learn this. But respecting the old tradition he agrees to part with it. He also fixes a base to the statue so that Alexander is able to put it to view easily.

As soon as they leave the workshop of Yung Lee, the Mandarin reminds Alexander of an old Chinese custom. It is ‘when a stranger has been generous, you must return the kindness within the calendar year.’ Alexander smiled his thanks which evinced the Mandarin that he will honour this custom.

Part – 2

(a) How does Alexander Heathcote return the kindness of the old craftsman, Yung Lee?

Answer : With the help of Mandarin , Alexander is able to assess the true value of the statue. He writes to his bankers to send a large part of his savings to reach him in Peking. Then he asks the Mandarin to find out the complete bio-data of the old craftsman. He learns that the old craftsman Yung Lee wants to retire from active life and live in a valley where his ancestors have died. Without telling anyone he gets a small beautiful white house built in the valley which the old man loved so much.

Almost a year to the day, Alexander goes to the old man’s house. The old craftsman recognises him and welcomes him with a bow. Alexander requests him to accompany him on a short journey. The old man agrees without question. They go to the far side of the village. They stop near a hollow in the hill from where one can have a magnificent view of the valley. In the hollow stands, a newly completed small white house. Two stone lion dogs guard the front entrance. Pointing to the house Alexander tells the old man that it is ‘an inadequate gift’ from him to repay his kindness. The old man is reluctant to accept it but the Mandarin assures him that the Empress has sanctioned Alexander’s request. So he accepts it.

(b) What did Alexander Heathcote write in his will?

Answer : Alexander Heathcote spent the final years of his life in the home of his late father in the company of his wife and the little Ming Emperor. The statue occupied the centre of the mantelpiece in the drawing room for all to see and admire.

Being an exact man. Alexander wrote a long and detailed will before his death. He left precise instructions for the disposal of his estate. He also gave instructions regarding the little statue. He wrote what was to happen to the little statue after his death. Alexander bequeathed the Emperor Kung to his first son requesting him that he do the same. According to this the statue might pass to the first son or a daughter if the male line faltered. He also made a provision that the statue was never to disposed of unless the family honour was at stake. Sir Alexander died at the stroke of midnight in his seventieth year. According to the will the statue came in the possession of his first born Major James Heathcote.

(c) How did the Chinese statue find its way into the auction room?

Answer : Alexander Heathcote bequeathed the statue to his first born Major James Heathcote with a request to do the same before his death so that the statue might always pass to the first son in the family. He also made a provision that it was never to be sold, unless the family’s honour was at stake.

When the statue passed into the hands of Alex Heathcote a serious problem arose. Alex Heathcote was a spoiled spendthrift. He did not believe in doing any hard work. He would spend more than he could afford. When casinos opened in England, he thought that he had found a way of earning money without doing any work. He lost so much money in this business that he came under heavy debt.

Alex made up his mind to sell up his mind to sell the little Emperor Kung. He declared that his family honour was at stake. So he took the family heirloom to Bond Street and delivered it to Sotheby. It was given out that the statue was purchased in Ha Li Chuan in 1871 and was referred to as the property of a gentleman.’ This is how the statue came under the auctioneer’s hammer.

Part – 3

(a) How is ‘The Chinese Statue’ a satire on the lovers of art?

Answer : The story ‘The Chinese Statue’ centres round a small beautiful statue of Emperor Kung made of ivory. It is supposed to be centuries old. It is passed from generation to generation as a family heirloom representing the Ming Dynasty. Alexander Heathcote, British ambassador to China got it from an old craftsman when he visited his shop in Ha Li Chuan. It was considered to be centuries old. However when the delicate piece was assessed by experts it was found to be only two hundred or two hundred and fifty years old. But the base attached to the statute , decorated with small dark figures which the old craftsman had casually picked from the wooden chest, turned out be a genuine work of art worth twenty two thousand guineas.

Thus we see that The Chinese Statue is a pungent satire on those people who take pride in being the connoisseurs of art, but actually know nothing about it. They are easily cheated and befooled by others.

(b) How is Alex Heathcote a foil to his great grandfather Alexander Heathcote?

Answer : Alexander Heathcote, the great grandfather of Alex Heathcote was a disciplined, honest and hardworking person. He rose to a very high position by dint of his sincerity , dedication and devotion to his duty. He earned a lot of respect and eventually became the British Ambassador to China. He followed a rigid routine about everything . In order to return the old craftsman’s kindness he spent all his savings to get a big house built for the old man.

On the other hand Alex Heathcote is a foil to Alexander Heathcote. He is a picture of indiscipline and slothfulness. He is totally selfish and self-centred. He has no desire to serve anyone other than himself. After his father’s death his mother has given him so much attention that he is totally spoiled. He spends so much money on himself that even his mother refuses to oblige him anymore. She dies under extreme tension . Moreover Alex is a gambler. He fails in whatever he does. One simply wonders if Alex really belongs to the great family of Sir Alexander Heathcote.

(c) Comment on the ending of the story ‘The Chinese Statue’.

Answer : ‘The Chinese Statue’ is a highly engaging story with surprise ending which critics call a sting in tail. It exposes those shallow lovers of art and beauty who make tall claims to be connoisseurs of artistic creations, but can’t distinguish a fake object from a genuine one.

Sir Alexander Heathcote, a British Ambassador to China, seemed to be proud of his knowledge of art. He praised a small statue of a Chinese Emperor belonging to Ming dynasty which he had got from a Chinese craftsman as a gift. He gave the old man a big white house as a return gift as per the Chinese custom. The statue passed on from one generation to another as a proud family heirloom.

When Alex Heathcote got it, he failed to keep it. Under heavy debts, he decided to put it on auction. When the worth of the statue was assessed, it was discovered that it was a fake. Its true value was assessed before putting it on auction. Alex’s heart sank when he was told:

‘A nice little piece, your Emperor, but unfortunately a fake, probably about two hundred, two hundred and fifty years old but only a copy of the original, I’m afraid.

He added that the statue was worth only seven hundred pounds, eight hundred at the most. Alex was disgusted but was soon delighted to learn that though the statue was of not much worth, its base was a work of genius. He could not believe when he got seven hundred and twenty guineas for a statue and twenty-two thousand guineas for its base. It showed how poor the knowledge of art of Sir Alexander was. He could not recognise that the little Ming Emperor was fake. Even the old craftsman, who fixed the base to the statue did not know its real worth.

The ending of the story surprises and amuses us. We wonder how the pseudo lovers of art feel proud of their artistic tastes.

Part – 4

(a) Describe briefly Alexander’s first meeting with Yung Lee.

Answer : Alexander Heathcote had an appreciation for Ming dynasty art. He had for some considerable time taken more than an amateur interest in the art of Ming dynasty. He was very happy when he was appointed British Ambassador in China. He hoped that his appointment would afford him an opportunity to observe in their natural habitat some of the great statues, paintings and drawings about which he had only read in books. In Peking he made it a point to learn more about China and its people. Whenever he got time he visited one or the other place. Once in a village he entered a craftsman’s working place. He was greeted by an old craftsman. Yung Lee, All the pieces lying on the shelves were superbly made. The old craftsman was also happy to meet. Alexander who showed his knowledge of the Ming dynasty art. He showed to Alexander the little statue of Emperor Kung made in ivory. Alexander liked it very much . This was their first meeting.

(b) Comment on the title of the story ‘The Chinese Statue’.

Answer : The story centres round the Chinese Statue of Emperor Kung which the old craftsman Yung Lee gifts to Alexander Heathcote. It is a masterpiece of Ming dynasty art. When Alexander was made British Ambassador in China, he came across this tiny statue. It was in possession of a poor old craftsman in a small village. The old man told Alexander that the statue had been in his family for over seven generations Alexander is fascinated by the beauty of the statue. He expresses a desire to posses it. Though saddened, the old man agrees to part with it. He takes up casually a base from his wooden chest, fixes it to the statue and gives it to Alexander . The statue remains as the family heirloom for four generations until the fourth descendent Alex Heathcote decides to see it off.

Thus we see that the Chinese statue remains in focus throughout the story. Its little therefore is quite appropriate.

(c) Describe in your own words the success story of Alexander Heathcote. What qualities did he possess which enabled him to rise in life?

Answer : Alexander Heathcote was exactly six-foot-three and a quarter inches tall. He was not only hardworking but also very disciplined, meticulous and honest. He belonged to aristocracy and was held in high esteem. He was extremely punctual. He used to get up at seven every morning, take his breakfast……. one boiled egg, two pieces of toast and cup of China tea……with his wife. He would leave for his office at eight-twenty and reach his office at eight fifty nine to start his work at nine.

Alexander’s father was a general but he did not follow in the footsteps of his father. He chose to serve his Queen in the diplomatic service. It was by dint of his own intelligence and diligence that he progressed in life. From a shared desk at the Foreign office in whiteball, he rose and became third secretary in Calcutta. Then became second secretary in Vienna and the first secretary in Rome. His success story does not end here. He became Deputy Ambassador in Washington and finally minister in Peking. He was delighted when Mr Gladstone invited him to represent the government in China.

Long Questions

Question 1 : Who was Alexander Heathcote? Where was he sent as an ambassador? How did he reveal his passion for art work?

Answer : Sir Alexander Heathcote was a tall gentleman, extremely disciplined and meticulous . He followed a rigid routine in doing everything. He was in the diplomatic service. Because of his dedication and sincerity he progressed fast. From a shared desk at the Foreign Office in Whitehall he became third secretary in Calcutta, second secretary in Vienna, first secretary in Rome, Deputy Ambassador in Washington, and finally minister in Peking. Thus, he had a distinguished career. He had got the opportunity to represent the British government in China.

In Peking he made it a point to use his time to travel to learn more about China and its people. On his trips he was always accompanied by a Mandarin from the palace staff who acted as interpreter and guide. Once he happened to visit a small village, some fifty miles from Peking.

Here in the village he entered a craftsman’s working place. He was highly impressed by the quality of works of art. All the pieces were superbly made by an experienced craftsman. After some time an old craftsman in a long, blue coolie robe came and greeted Sir Alexander . The minister returned the bow and praised his craftsmanship. He showed his knowledge of the Ming dynasty. The old man felt pleased and said:

“I have, Your Excellency, a piece of Ming myself that you might care to see. A statue that has been in my family for over seven generations.”

Then the old man showed the little statue, no more than six inches in height. It was one of the Emperor Kung. The minister was so amazed and pleased to see it that he at once said, “How I wish the piece was mine”. He regretted saying it because according to the Chinese tradition, when an honoured guest expresses such a desire the host has to part with the desired gift. The old man gifted the little Emperor Kung to him. The Mandarin, later, reminded him of the old Chinese custom, according to which he should ‘return the kindness within the calendar year’.

The minster, being very honest, returned the kindness ‘ by gifting a big, beautiful white house to the old craftsman who had expressed his desire to retire and settle in a magnificent valley. The minister came back to his country, and the statue passed on from one generation to the other after his death.

Question 2 : Under what circumstances does the little statue of Emperor Kung find its way into the auction room?

Answer : Alexander Heathcote, the British ambassador to China, was able to get a very ‘precious’ statue of Emperor Kung from an old Chinese craftsman. As it had no base, the craftsman fitted it with one of his own bases taken casually from his workshop. Nobody was, in reality, aware of the real value of the statue and that of the improvised base.

Before his death Alexander bequeathed the statue to his first son requesting him to do the same before his death so that it might always pass to the first son in his family. He also made the provision that the statue was never to be sold, unless the family’s honour was at stake.

When, at last, the statue passed on to Alex Heathcote, a spoiled spendthrift, a grave problem arose. Alex did not believe in doing any hard work. He could never hold down a job for more than a few weeks. He would spend more than he could afford. When casinos opened in England, he thought he had found a way of earning money without doing any work. He lost so much money in this business that he soon came under heavy debts.

So he made up his made to sell the little Emperor Kung. He thought of an excuse to sell it. It was that his family’s honour was at stake. So he took the family heirloom to Bond Street and delivered it to Sotheby’s. Its true value was assessed before putting it on auction. Alex’s heart sank when he was told:

‘A nice little piece, your Emperor, but unfortunately a fake, probably about two hundred, two hundred and fifty years old but only a copy of the original, I’m afraid.

He added that the statue was worth only seven hundred pounds, eight hundred at the most. Alex was disgusted but was soon delighted to learn that though the statue was of not much worth, its base was a work of genius. He could not believe when he got seven hundred and twenty guineas for the statue and twenty-two thousand guineas for its base. It showed how poor the knowledge of art of Sir Alexander was. HE could not recognise that the little Ming Emperor was a fake.

Question 3 : The story ‘TheĀ  Chinese Statue’ brings to the fore the significance of tradition and custom. Discuss with reference to the text.

Answer : ‘The Chinese Statue’ with the background of old China sheds light on an important Chinese tradition which is a part of its culture. It is that “if an honoured guest requests something the giver will grow in the eyes of his fellow men by parting with it.” The following example illustrates this.

Alexander Heathcote has an appreciation of Ming dynasty art. He has for some considerable time taken more than an amateur interest in the art of Mind dynasty. He is extremely happy when he is appointed British Ambassador in China. He is happy because this appointment would afford him an opportunity to observe in their natural habitat some of the great statues, paintings and drawings about which he had only read in books. Once in Peking, he meets an old craftsman Yung Lee who shows him an excellent statue of Emperor Kung made in ivory. It is a masterpiece of Ming art. Alexander is so much fascinated by this statue that he expresses a desire to possess it. The old craftsman is sad for a moment to learn this. But respecting the old Chinese tradition he parts with it. He also fixes a base to the statue so that Alexander is able to put it to view easily.

Again when Alexander and the Mandarin are returning to Peking the Mandarin reminds him of an old Chinese custom. It is that “When a stranger has been generous, you must return the kindness within the calendar year.”

Alexander too, has a respect for old Chinese customs. Once, back in his official residence, with the help of the Mandarin, he is able to assess the true value of the statue. It is equal to a figure that comes to almost three years’ emolument for a servant of the crown. He writes to his bakers to send a large part of his savings to reach him in Peking. Then he asks the Mandarin to find out the complete bio-data of the old craftsman. He comes to know that the old craftsman Yung Lee, wants to retire from active life and live in a valley where his ancestors have always died. Without telling anyone, Alexander gets a beautiful, small, white house of the most perfect proportions built in the valley which the old man loved so much. Almost a year to the day, he meets the old craftsman and gifts him this house. The old man is simply wonderstruck at this repayment of debt. Thus in ‘The Chinese Statue’ the old tradition and custom are beautifully observed.

Question 4 : Alex Heathcote is a selfish, spoiled aristocrat. What do you think? In what way is he a foil to Sir Alexander Heathcote?

Answer : Alex Heathcote belongs to a great aristocratic family. Unlike his great ancestors, he is totally selfish and self-centred. He has no desire to serve anyone other than himself. After his father’s death, his mother has given him so much attention and love that he turns out to be spoiled, worthless brat.

He is a shirker and lazy fellow. He does not believe in hard work. So he fails to hold down a job for more than a few weeks. He spends so much money on himself that even his mother refuses to oblige him any more. Under extreme tension, she dies leaving his son to his own.

In order to earn some money Alex becomes a gambler. He joins the casino business newly opened in Britain. Sadly, the business proves costly to him. He incurs so much loss that he is under heavy debts.

He has no respect in his mind for his family traditions. Under compulsion to pay back his debts he thinks of selling the little Ming Emperor. He is, however, shocked when he learns that the statue is a fake, a copy of the original , and is not worth much. However, he is relieved to discover that the base of the statue is very precious. So he gets twenty-two thousand guineas only as the price of the base. But will it solve his problems? Perhaps not. He is likely to lose this amount, too, in gambling.

He is really a foil to his great grandfather, Sir Alexander Heathcote. Alexander was a very hard-working , disciplined, honest and sincere person. He progressed to become the British Ambassador to China. He earned a lot of respect for his hard work and dedication . He followed a rigid routine about everything. Besides, he was totally honest. In order to return the old craftsman’s kindness, he spent all his savings to get a big house built for the old man. On the other hand, Alex is a picture of indiscipline and sloth. He proves to be totally selfish person who has no concern about anyone else. Whereas Sir Alexander brought glory to his family, Alex brings ignominy to it. Both are poles apart. One wonders if Alex really belongs to the great family of Sir Alexander!