Chinese Art, an introduction, Old Town Hall, Friday, 21. June 2019

Friday 21st of June 2019: “Burial; Temple and Worship in China”.
Throughout history, grave goods of the finest craftsmanship have fascinated people. Examples of these items at the V&A offer us glimpses into the spiritual and material cultures of China, at the dawn of Chinese civilisation. From bronze vessels to terracotta figures and tomb chambers, the range of styles and superb designs reflect the importance of custom and ritual in early China.
Ancestor worship has remained a fixture of Chinese culture since the Bronze Age. A selection of sculptures, inscriptions and garments provides us further insights into Confucianist, Taoist and Buddhist ideals. Some stunning pieces can be seen at the V&A: ancestor portraits made of watercolours on silk, wooden temple figures with lacquer and gilding, embroidered silk robes, large ink scrolls or even canopies and banners made of hemp.
 
Friday 28th of June: “Interiors, Jewellery and Ornaments in ancient China”
Inviting you inside houses from the Han (3rd century B.C) to the Qing (18th century), this class sheds light on furnishings and various aspects of home life: writing, personal adornment, and celebrating. A closer look at porcelain and glass snuff bottles will help us investigate the role of perfume and porcelain in ancient China.
Celebrating also means ‘feasting’: some of the culinary practices considered essentially Chinese have their roots in the Zhou dynasty (1050-221 B.C), as seen in the three-legged cauldrons and intricate gold dishes and ceramics in the V&A collections.
 
Friday 5th of July: “Ruling and Collecting. The Forbidden City, Calligraphy and Painting in ancient China.”
From the earliest times, the rulers of China have been able to call on makers in a variety of crafts to produce exquisite objects which added to their prestige. Numerous workshops existed near the Forbidden City, the huge imperial palace set in the very centre of Peking, to supply luxury items for court use and for the emperors to give as marks of their favour. Pairs of folding fans, auspicious jade boxes or Buddhist hangings for instance were used as presents, alongside elaborate paintings and calligraphy.
There is a difference between this accumulation of luxury objects as signs of wealth, social prestige and power, and the collecting of such objects as ‘works of art’. The first kinds of objects to be classified as ‘works of art’ and to be traded and collected as such, were pieces of calligraphy, inscriptions written on paper or silk with Chinese ink and brush. The moral value underpinning these characters was and still is essential. The significance of calligraphy goes far beyond content alone. Calligraphy is treasured for its aesthetic wit, its intellectual spirit. By the 7th century the idea of paintings as independent artworks was well established.
 
Fridays 11.00-12.00
Whittaker Suite
Old Town Hall
Whittaker Avenue
Richmond

Friday, 21. June 2019, Old Town Hall, Chinese Art, an introduction

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