Archives for October 2014

What I Find Interesting About FengnShui

We are reading about feng shui in Professor Shao’s traditional Chinese culture class, and as I read there are various aspects that I find particularly interesting.

The first aspect of feng shui I find interesting is the spread of feng shui from Asia to the West, specifically the United States. For example, Levi Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers, the Smurfit Stone Building, the two Prudential Plaza, the Carbide & Carbon Building, and a few other buildings in Chicago all utilisze feng shui. Even if cities do not have specific buildings that incorporate feng shui principles, most cities still have feng shui consultants. These consultants help enhance and improve the feng shui in one’s home or business.

The second aspect are the many schools of feng shui. You have: Landscape Feng Shui, Black Sect Tantric Feng Shui, Eight Directions Feng Shui,  the Pa Kua, Lo Shu theory, Flying Star Feng Shui, and these are just the schools I have learned about, there are many more. Although each school shares many of the basic principles, there are still enough differences to separate them. However, in my opinion, when there are too many different options, it becomes hard to remember or even know which school is the “real” or “best” school to follow. Everyone thinks their school of feng shui is the best, and is the one people should practice. This can lead to conflict between the different schools. Too many schools of feng shui also make it hard to pick a school that best suits a person’s lifestyle, especially if that person is new to feng shui.

Finally, in relation to my last topic, the one type of feng shui I find most interesting is the feng shui of scents. According to Dennis Fairchild, from one of our readings, different scents can also influence one’s life just as placement of furniture does in traditional feng shui. For example, Fairchild writes that basil is said to promote individuality, luck with solo work, and personal ventures. In addition to Basil, Fairchild also mentions the usefulness of bergamot, chamomile, cinnamon and cloves, eucalyptus, frankincense, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, orange, peppermint and spearmint, pine, thyme, and rose. I never thought that smells could also be incorporated into feng shui practices, which is why I find this type of feng shui the most interesting out of all the schools.

Before taking this class I only had a basic understanding of feng shui, and could not even give a clear and concise definition of feng shui. However, since taking this class I have a new appreciation for feng shui and all of it’s various schools. I have also been enjoying this class more than I thought I would.

Walking in Confucius’ Footsteps

Immediately after arriving at Qu Fu (曲阜), the large billboards by the roads greeted us with Confucius’ famous saying from Analects, “It’s delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters!” (有朋自远方来不亦乐乎?). As guests to Confucius’ hometown, we were graciously welcomed to the little town located in the northern Shan Dong Province while reminded that modern tourism drives this century-old virtue.

Six thousand years ago, Confucius roamed the streets of Qu Fu as we did, but six thousand years past, the landscape has changed significantly since his existence. For one, the large Confucius’ Mansion was not originally Confucius’ home, but his eldest’s son built in honor of his father. Since then, the buildings and monuments have been destroyed and rebuilt several times before it is now preserved for tourism. As we walked through a door, we smelled the strong tang of a new gloss of paint on the red door. Confucius’ Temple was more glorious in its structure. The tour guide told us that Ming Dynasty’s emperors used to pay his respects to the old legacy and pointed to the strip of brick that  has a different pattern over the other bricks, “This is where the emperors used to walk to Confucius’ statue. Walk like the emperor by walking on it.” Following in line, we walked like emperors on the specially patterned bricks.

Confucius’ Cemetery was the largest. Because of the trees that complete the cemetery, the place was also known as Kong Forest. Generations of the Kong family was buried in the cemetery, with Confucius further in the forest. Buried with his wife, Confucius had the stone tablet to commemorate his burial site. I saw two men kowtow to his grave and stuff 100 RMB each into the donation box. Beside the grave was a stand for people to buy well-wishes on plates. Next to the stand, tourists left behind wishes that they paid for for 20 RMB. Because wishes was made under the influence of Confucius’ spirit, they were relevant to school and education – such a big sister wishing her little brother an bright future with endless opportunities after years of studying.

“Confucius would probably not approve of this tourism,” my professor said to us as we left the cemetery. IMG_3262

Liuli China Museum

Loretta H. Yang. Healing Hand. 1993

Loretta H. Yang. Healing Hand. 1993

Liuli refers to many things in the eyes of Chang Yi and Loretta H. Yang, co-founders of the Liuligongfan and the Liuli China Museum. It refers to the artifacts found in Western Han Tomb of Emperor Liu Sheng, to ancient Tang poems, Buddhist scriptures and most importantly to the artistic style of Liuli. Liuli is an ancient lead barium glass art form that first appeared during the western Zhou Dynasty. The process referred to by the French name of pate-de-verre can be traced back to 206 B.C.-220 A.D. in China, after which point it was lost.

Visiting the Liuli China Museum located in Shanghai, was my first exposure to Liuli. The museum is currently showing an exhibit called “Why Glass?” which traces the history of glass art from the pioneering works of Emile Galle, to the creation of the American Studio Glass movement, culminating in the museums collection of works by Chang Yi and Loretta H. Yang. While the art pieces themselves where extremely enamoring, what was even more interesting was the history and creation of the museum.

Prior to 1987 Chang Yi and Loretta H. Yang were prominent figures in the film industry, Yi as a movie director and Yang as an actress. In the last project of their collaborative film career the two brought in a collection of glass as set props, soon realizing the collection held pieces from all over the world, except for China. Thus they were inspired to revive the ancient art form of Liuli and established the Liuligongfan in Tamshui, Taiwan in 1987. The creation of this glass studio reintroduced the process of pate-de-verre to China, and glass as an art form in general.

Prior to the creation of the Liuligongfan in 1987, and then the Liuli China Museum in 2006, glass was not seen as a material with which to create art in China. Meanwhile in America the Studio Glass movement began in the 1950s, quickly becoming very popular and spreading to Europe, the UK and Australia, only becoming introduced to China, and Asia as a whole with the creation of Liuligongfan (http://www.cmog.org/article/american-studio-glass-movement). The delay in the introduction of the Studio Glass movement in China is due in part to China closing its doors to western societies in 1949, right at the beginning of the Studio Glass movement, and only opening them in 1973. The Chinese Studio Glass movement has been greatly delayed but is currently gaining recognition as Yi and Yang pioneer this field and gain acclaim throughout the world.

Shanghai Art Scene – Visiting the Shanghai Museum

This week I visited the Shanghai Museum. Shanghai Museum focuses on ancient Chinese art, ranging from sculpture, bronze works, painting, calligraphy, seals, jade works, furniture, coins and Chinese minority art. I toured all the exhibits but thought the four that would be most integral to my study of the development of the Shanghai art market would be the sculptures, bronzes, ceramic pieces and paintings.

The first exhibit I visited was the Ancient Chinese Sculpture Gallery. Although Buddhism wasn’t introduced to China until the Han dynasties in the 1st century, much of ancient Chinese statuary finds it’s roots in Buddhism, featuring many statues of the Buddha or Buddhist values. Prior to the introduction of Buddhism, statuary typically featured animals. The representation of the figures of dogs, lions, tigers and dragons occur repeatedly. These animals where chosen due to the power and strength their forms represent. The religious pieces also displayed power through the facial expressions on the figures faces and their stances, as well as an emphasis on enlightenment. In ancient statuary the human form is exaggerated so that the head is much larger than natural. This exaggeration emphasizes an importance on the power of the mind. The theme of power and strength is one that occurred repeatedly throughout the other exhibits.

Dog Stone, Tang Dynasty A.D.618-907

Dog Stone, Tang Dynasty A.D.618-907

Lokapala Stone, Tang Dynasty A.D. 618-907

Lokapala Stone, Tang Dynasty A.D. 618-907

Mahavairocana Budda, 2nd Year of Shengming Reigion, A.D. 1163

Mahavairocana Budda, 2nd Year of Shengming Reigion, A.D. 1163

The next exhibition I visited was the Ancient Chinese Bronze. The Bronze Age in China started in the 21st century BC and lasted about 200 years through the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties. The art of bronze casting was a process that was highly technical and bronze pieces were only obtained by those in the upper class. Bronze pieces were a reflection of the owners social status and power. The bronze pieces displayed were weapons (knives, axes ect.) drinking vessels, or musical instruments. In all situations obtaining and using bronze pieces such as these represented power; weapons as a literal representation, and drinking vessels and instruments figuratively as they indicated a high social standing.

Bronze Drum, B.C. 25-220

Bronze Drum, B.C. 25-220

You (Wine Vessel) With Animal Mask, Early Spring &Autumn (770-early 7th century B.C.)

You (Wine Vessel) With Animal Mask, Early Spring &Autumn (770-early 7th century B.C.)

Ancient Axe, Unknown

Ancient Axe, Unknown

After visiting the bronze exhibit, I continued on to the Chinese Ceramics. Walking through this exhibit I found myself making connections between ceramic works created in China too works created in Southern Europe. Up until the discovery of porcelain the development of Chinese ceramics was almost identical to the development of ceramics in Southern Europe. For example one of the Majiayao type vases created between 3100-2700 B.C. has much in common with early Cycladic works of 2300-2200 B.C. Similarities in ceramic pieces between China and Europe continue up until approximately 400BC. The Two Ear celadon shares several similarities with it’s contemporary Greek work Column Crater. In each there is an emphasis on lines, and a similar shape is used. However, at this point in Greek vase painting the focal point shifts towards humanity and designs becomes exceedingly intricate. On the other hand Chinese ceramics becomes more simplified focusing on the shape and form, integrating detailed designs years later. The use of porcelain, which was exclusive to China, is a key factor in the emergence of differences between Chinese ceramics and Southern Europe ceramics. Porcelain allowed artists to create works that were more skilled, and delicate in their creation. This later allowed for more precise and detailed glaze designs. The representation of power, is prevalent as many ceramic pieces feature physical shows of strength or animals which obtain such qualities. Additionally only wealthy Chinese would own porcelain pieces, thus representing a life of luxury, the same way many bronze pieces did.

Painted Pottery Pot with String Pattern, Majiayao Type of Majiayao Culture, 3100-2700 B.C.

Painted Pottery Pot with String Pattern, Majiayao Type of Majiayao Culture, 3100-2700 B.C.

Kernos (vase for multiple offerings), Early Cycladic III-Middle Cycladic !, ca. 2300-2200 B.c. Terracotta

Kernos (vase for multiple offerings), Early Cycladic III-Middle Cycladic !, ca. 2300-2200 B.c. Terracotta

Two Ear Celadon with Vertical Stripes, Warring States, 475-221 B.C.

Two Ear Celadon with Vertical Stripes, Warring States, 475-221 B.C.

Column-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water) Classical, ca 430 B.C., red figure.

Column-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water) Classical, ca 430 B.C., red figure.

Polychrome Glazed Pottery Statue of Heavenly Guardian, Tang A.D. 618-907

Polychrome Glazed Pottery Statue of Heavenly Guardian, Tang A.D. 618-907

White Glazed Vase, Tang, A.D. 618-907

White Glazed Vase, Tang, A.D. 618-907

Detail of Vase with Underglaze Blue and Red Design of Dragons and Sea Waves Jingdezhen Ware, Yongzheng Reign (A.D. 1723-1735). Qing

Detail of Vase with Underglaze Blue and Red Design of Dragons and Sea Waves Jingdezhen Ware, Yongzheng Reign (A.D. 1723-1735). Qing

Vase with Underglaze Blue and Red Design of Dragons and Sea Waves Jingdezhen Ware, Yongzheng Reign (A.D. 1723-1735). Qing

Vase with Underglaze Blue and Red Design of Dragons and Sea Waves Jingdezhen Ware, Yongzheng Reign (A.D. 1723-1735). Qing

The Chinese Painting Gallery was the last exhibit I visited. Throughout this exhibit I noticed many stylistic elements unique to Chinese painting. Chinese works often include some form of characters, and are typically painted on long scrolls that can extend up to several feet in length. The topic of most of the paintings in this exhibit are nature, and mans interaction with nature. Fishermen by Wu Zhen created in the 13th-14th century shows a highly detailed mountain range with surrounding lakes, and fishermen rowing around the lakes trying to make a living. Despite the time period throughout the exhibit nature is the prevailing topic. Comparatively while many European works featured nature, as time progressed other genres and styles of painting emerged; religious works, portrait painting, genre paintings and many more.  At the same time the Chinese painting Lady with Fan by Fei Danxu was being painted, Eugene Delacroix was painting  Lady Liberty Leading the People. The vast difference in the genre of painting reflects cultural values, and the extreme differences in the development of the art markets.

Zhen, wu. Fishermen. Hanging Scroll. Yuan Dynasty

Zhen, wu. Fishermen. Hanging Scroll. Yuan Dynasty

Cen, Gao. Endless Landscape Scenery. Hanging Scroll. Qing Dynasty

Cen, Gao. Endless Landscape Scenery. Hanging Scroll. Qing Dynasty

Shouping, Yun. Flowers. Album Leaves. Qing Dynasty.

Shouping, Yun. Flowers. Album Leaves. Qing Dynasty.

Danxu, Fei. Lady with a Fan. Hanging Scroll. Qing Dynasty.

Danxu, Fei. Lady with a Fan. Hanging Scroll. Qing Dynasty.

Liberty Leading the People, Eugene Delacroix. 1830.

Liberty Leading the People, Eugene Delacroix. 1830.

Visiting the Shanghai Museum was extremely informative providing a vast amount of knowledge of ancient Chinese art and the beginning of the art market.  In studying the development of the Shanghai art market it is integral that I have background knowledge of these things, which the museum provided me with. I was able to make rudimentary comparisons, which will help to jump-start my research of the development of the Shanghai art market. It was extremely interesting to see how even though European and Asian societies did not have much contact previous to the 15th century, there where many similarities in the art they where producing. I can’t wait to explore more about how the opening of China and the mass contact with European and American societies affected the art market.

 

Sources:

Abattista, Guido. European Encounters in the Age of Expansion. European History Online. 24, January, 2011. Web. 24 September, 2014.

Department of Greek and Roman Art. Athenian Vase Painting: Black- and Red-Figure Techniques. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. October, 2002. Web. 24, September, 2014

Department of Painting: French Painting. Liberty Leading the People. Louvre. Web. 24 September, 2014.

 

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