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Forum LockedCan westerners really appreciate Chinese Art Works

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    Posted: 10-Jul-2006 at 08:32
When reading recent Chinese history, I always think of the precious art works of Chinese ancients, for millions of them have been taken away to the West since the Opium War, like the British Museum, and many American ones. I know they are still there ,but i can visit them only through pictures in books. What a shame to a Chinese who has the interest and ability of appreciation.
 
To me, the whole set of a calligraphy is not only Chinese character, but also a way of conversation with the ancients, for the writer used his brush"drawed" his ideas, sometimes a  poem, sometimes a letter,and sometimes an article  of suggestion to  the authority or even the emperor. I can feel from it, the happiness, the sorrow, all through his ways of writing or even "drawing"(writing fastly so that you will see the characters are flying on the paper).
 
As to Chinese paintings, they are totally different from western styles. They focus  more on idealy-like than virtually-like, somewhat like the abstract paintings,but naturely different. Chinese painting has many sorts, among which, I prefer Mountain and River paintings, for  they are especially tasteful according to traditional Chinese culture.
 
Just like oil paintings that are very much related to the Bible stories and cannot be easily tasted by easterners, I guess those Chineses art works scattering  in Europe and US may not be very well understood or appreciated.
 
Those who know them value them ,otherwise neglect them, right?
 
As to millions of the treasures of the East,  how much you will appreciate?
Thanks for your answer in advance. :)


Edited by parthenon - 10-Jul-2006 at 08:47
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DayI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jul-2006 at 09:15
I never saw a chinese interior architecture, can you show some of it to us?

this is a "typical" chinese architecture from outside, but whats the inside of it?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parthenon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jul-2006 at 10:44

First, show you a few scenes of a typical Chinese Garden Architecture in Suzhou's Zhuozhen Garden. You may find it colourful, but actually that's the creative ideas of the builders, for the garden architecture not only focus on the major buildings like the pagodas, houses, courts, but also the senaries in four seasons. The architectures together with its surroundings are serve to entertain its masters, this kind of idea is also called "people be harmounious with the nature"(a traditional Chinese thought ).  Give me more time , I will show you more.

 


Edited by parthenon - 10-Jul-2006 at 10:46
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jul-2006 at 14:21
Originally posted by parthenon parthenon wrote:

 
To me, the whole set of a calligraphy is not only Chinese character, but also a way of conversation with the ancients, for the writer used his brush"drawed" his ideas, sometimes a  poem, sometimes a letter,and sometimes an article  of suggestion to  the authority or even the emperor. 
 
I have always enjoyed calligraphy.   I like your point that it should be viewed as a drawing.  Now,  I know why Asian Calligrpahy is very different from western.  Traditional western calligraphy values uniformity of the letters, Asian is far more individually expressive.
 
Though it helps to be of the same culture that produced the art, I tkink any individual, once educated can admire another culture's art.  Chinese Calligraphy viewed as a drawing is similar to Christian Icons viewed as being written.  Beyond the, at times, simplistic paintings are theological messages "written" into the painting.   
 
 
Originally posted by parthenon parthenon wrote:

When reading recent Chinese history, I always think of the precious art works of Chinese ancients, for millions of them have been taken away to the West since the Opium War, like the British Museum, and many American ones. I know they are still there ,but i can visit them only through pictures in books. What a shame to a Chinese who has the interest and ability of appreciation.
 
Hopefully  the more blatantly stolen art works that are held in western  museums will be returned.  This may happen as China's economic strength increases.   Ironically, the west's possession of Chinese cultural art probably saved the works from destruction by Chinese during the Cultural Revolution.    I think that many masterpeices are also in Tapei, Taiwan.
 
 
 


Edited by Cryptic - 10-Jul-2006 at 15:10
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Parthenon, the garden photos that you show us are absolutely stunning.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parthenon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jul-2006 at 03:25
Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

Hopefully  the more blatantly stolen art works that are held in western  museums will be returned.  This may happen as China's economic strength increases.   Ironically, the west's possession of Chinese cultural art probably saved the works from destruction by Chinese during the Cultural Revolution.    I think that many masterpeices are also in Tapei, Taiwan.
 
History mocked us, and something just happened. Sometimes in the East, sometimes in the West; sometimes others destroyed us,while sometimes we destroyed ourselves. Who shall be blame for?  What's really important is to well protect  the remains.
After all, tomorrow is another day.:)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parthenon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jul-2006 at 03:54
Continue with a set of photos of the Palace Museum in Beijing that  could represent  the most famous palace architecture in China.I think they can best describe the outer and interior looks and even some details about that ancient palace.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jul-2006 at 21:56
Originally posted by parthenon parthenon wrote:

Originally posted by Cryptic Cryptic wrote:

  Ironically, the west's possession of Chinese cultural art probably saved the works from destruction by Chinese during the Cultural Revolution.    
 
History mocked us, and something just happened. Sometimes in the East, sometimes in the West; sometimes others destroyed us,while sometimes we destroyed ourselves. Who shall be blame for?  What's really important is to well protect  the remains.
 
 
Yes it did happen in the West as well.  The French Revolution saw many examples of religous art being destroyed by revolutionaries.  Likewise, extreme Anarchists fighting for the Republican side in the Spanish civil war destroyed many cultural treasures (mostly religous) as well.  Fortunatly for France and Spain though, most of the destruction was not systematicaly ordered by the State.  Rather,  the destruction was carried out  by small groups or individuals.   The revolutionary governments may have tolerated  the destruction (to a degree), but these governements soon fell.
 
In contrast, the the forces ordering the destruction of cultural heritage in China and Russia were part a well established state government.   Once the destruction became de facto state policy, the loss in cultural heritage was far vaster than in France or Spain.


Edited by Cryptic - 11-Jul-2006 at 22:30
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parthenon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2006 at 07:12
I do agree with you, Cryptic, but I don't want this topic to go too far.
 
Here I just tell you my own feeling, what you mentioned has already become scars to most Chinese people, reminding those who have experienced  that period of it  will make them speechless, and  that painful feeling has been passed on to the younger generations. Maybe  the pain will linger on  through centuries. We seldom talk about it, but that doesn't mean we forget it. And I think the best way to heal China is to look forward , although with scars, and do more we can do. It is us, the younger generation to make up for it.
 
Well, shall we back to the topic?
After all, tomorrow is another day.:)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2006 at 08:53
Originally posted by parthenon parthenon wrote:

 
Well, shall we back to the topic?
 
Yes, by all means.  I apologize.   I should have realized earlier the vast difference between an individual (myself) who has an academic interest, but relatively little emotional ties to a sensitive topic and an individual such as yourself who has both knowledge and a very personal  and very deep emotional tie to the same topic.
 
Originally posted by parthenon parthenon wrote:

I guess those Chineses art works scattering  in Europe and US may not be very well understood or appreciated.
 
As to millions of the treasures of the East,  how much you will appreciate?
Thanks for your answer in advance. :)
 
I am sure that most of the artiwork is under appreaciated.  Especially paintings that have a subtle religous aspect to them.  For example, abstract mountain scenes of the areas around Sian that show both mountians and Taoists.   A westerner, with no knowlege of Taoism will only see an abstract mountain and a man.  This westerner may also even conclude that the painting did not requre much skill when compared to Western realism and that the level of artistic  skill is the same, it is just expressed in a different culturla context.
 
On the other hand, when the Imperial treasures toured USA, I was amazed by the level of interest.  The treasures were also presented on closing week end  with Chinese cultural events.  I went to the museum that week end expecting to see only a few art students, local Chinese, or other students that were uhhmmm "encouraged" to attend by their teachers.
 
What I saw was amazing.   There were thousands of people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds there.  Several people told me that they had made several trips to the museum over the preceeding weeks. Smile    The treasures, of course, were magnificant.  
 
 
   
 
 
 


Edited by Cryptic - 14-Jul-2006 at 20:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parthenon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Jul-2006 at 08:24
Thanks, Cryptic.
 
What I show below is the masterpiece of Wan Xizhi in Jin Dynasty,
called  Lan Ting Xu, which means the preface of Lan Ting gathering.
It is considered to be the most wonderful piece in the history
of Chinese calligraphy.   The writer himself was an intellectual at
that time. He left us with his calligraphy as well as  a brand-new
vision of apprieciation.
 
I love this piece very much.Thumbs Up
 
 


Edited by parthenon - 18-Jul-2006 at 08:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jul-2006 at 15:45

Double Post



Edited by Cryptic - 19-Jul-2006 at 15:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jul-2006 at 15:48

What is the text about?   This will help in my apreciation for the work.   I have a book about calligraphy in Modern China and am happy  that the classical style is being studied in modern times.   What is your favorite dual Calligraphy  / Brush painting work?



Edited by Cryptic - 19-Jul-2006 at 15:49
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Parthenon- could you explain for us the stampings that are on that Caligraphic piece? Who did them and why? I think that would also help us to further appreciate this work.
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To red clay, I am glad that you have noticed the red stamps on this piece, yes, they are important in the appreciation of Chinese calligraphy.
 
The following photo may show the stamps much clearer.
 
Those stamps were pressed by its collectors of various  dynasties, and through centuries, the stamps have become an integral part of the calligraphy.
 
For example, you can see from this photo clearly the stamps of Emperor Qian Long of Qing Dynasty, he was very fond of it and pressed several stamps of collection of him, like The Treasure Of Qian Long (see the oval stamp on the top left between verticle line 2 and 3), The Precious Piece Of San Xi Tan (see the squared one below), Qin Long Favoured (see the circle stamp on the top right between the last verticle line 3 and 4), etc.
 
This piece has also been collected by officials and nobles in history, and they all left their stamps on it. To name a few, those collectors are including Emperor Tang Tai Zong of Tang Dynasty, Shaoxin government in Zhejiang Province when in Song Dynasty, Guo Tianxi in Yuan Dynasty, Yang  Shiqi, Wang Ji and Xiang Yuanbian in Ming Dynasty,Cao Rong in Qing Dynasty, and then went to the Palace Museum since Qing Dynasty, and it is still there.
 
So, with these stamps, you may have the clue of how this great piece being passed on through the history. Those stamps are telling you stories of their own.Tongue
 
However, I should mention Emperor Tang Tai Zong of Tang Dynasty. He was a calligraphy-lover, and especially fond of Wang Xizi's writings. He tried all sorts of ways to find the real piece of Lan Ting Xu, and then got it from a folk collector.  He loved this piece so much that he burried it with him, and left us with three editions of immitation of it, all were done by famous writer and officials at that time. So, what we see here is  the most renowed edition written by Feng Chensu of Tang Dynasty. Although we lost the real one, this piece is considered highly throughout the history, and is still ranked No. 1 in the history of Chinese Calligraphy.
 
 
 


Edited by parthenon - 24-Jul-2006 at 08:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parthenon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jul-2006 at 09:35
This Chinese painting was done by Wen Zhengming in Ming Dynasty, one of the four most renowed artists and intellectuals at that time. It describle the gathering of the intellectuals in Lan Ting(Gloriette) in Jin Dynasty(353 A.D.).
 
The painter read Lan Ting Xu and also other poems and essays of the writers in Lan Ting Gathering, and used his imagination to recreate a picture of that scene for us.
 
There are other paintings about Lan Ting Gathering, but this one is more popular and more specificly done. It is also a representative piece of Wen Zhenming.
 
You may find there is a creek in this picture, and people were sitting around it, doing a ritual. Yes, it is a traditional custom of China. When in March of Chinese rural calendar, peple will play with the water to make wishes and get rid of bad fortunes. However, when this ritual came to those intellectuals, they made it even nobler, like putting a cup of drink into the water and let it flow from high to low level, and it passed by one person, that man should make a poem or essay, otherwise he must drink up.Wink
 
So now you can see, in what kind of situation that essay of Lan Ting Xu was written. It was full of spirit and of high mood, when people sitting in the mountains and rivers , and enjoying gathering with friends, one must be very delighted.
 
 
 
(明)文征明 《兰亭修禊图》
Gathering In Lan Gloriette, by Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), Ming Dynasty


Edited by parthenon - 24-Jul-2006 at 09:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jul-2006 at 18:20
The Japanese adopted this device also, each owner of the piece adding his stamp, in that culture added to the value as it was a running provenance [history]  I have seen several works, [can't remember Chinese or Japanese] where the artwork has become secondary to the history preserved in the stampings, the original work being almost obscured by the stamps.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parthenon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2006 at 08:06
What you said is a point, but as a matter of fact, stamps are used as a part of calligraphy artwork, for they themselves are types of Chinese characters, most of which are more ancient types of calligraphy than  that  of the brush written ones.
 
Also, it depends on in which respect you perceive a piece of calligraphy work. As a calligraphy-lover, one's eyes will first focus on the majority of a piece------that is the brush written characters, and then move on  to the stamps, their shapes, their contents, and their artistic tastes.
 
As you said that too many stamps may made calligraphy itself obscure to us, I think  that might happen when a beginner uses too many stamps of his or her own and impresses them everywhere. However in most cases, this will not happen, as stamps have their regular places in a piece of work.
 
If you see some recent or contemporary works, you will find the rules of how to use  stamps, like on the top left(where an article begins) between the first and second Chinese characters, on the right side below the writer's name,etc.
 
Although Lan Ting Xu does have many stamps, we don't consider it is being obscured by them, because those collectors followed the rules of stamping. You can see most of the stamps are on the margins of both left and right sides, where there is no Chinese characters, these places are allow to stamp. Secondly,  you will find a few stamps are impressed  at the beginning lines (left 2 to3) and ending lines (right 3 to 4),  that's also reasonable for a long piece. Thirdly, you may find in the middle of the piece there are five stamps impressed on the linkage of two pieces of paper(for in ancient times there were no such long piece of paper to write such a long article, so they pasted two pieces of paper together), that's also necessary to convince us of the integrity of it, sometimes the writer him or herself will stamp there instead of the collectors.
 
I wish my answer will satisfy you.Smile


Edited by parthenon - 25-Jul-2006 at 08:12
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Parthenon, you seem to be quite knowledgeable in traditional Chinese art. Are you equally knowledgeable in traditional Chinese music? Long time ago, I started a thread entitled "Did Confucianism limit the potential of Chinese music?" on the East Asian forum but did not get any response from anyone.

http://www.allempires.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=10083

I was wondering if you have any opinion on this subject. Perhaps when talking about Chinese music, I could have asked the same question you're asking here: "Can Westerners really appreciate Chinese music?" My answer to this question, as implied in the post that I made on that thread, is a tentative "no" due to the intrinsic difference in the nature of Chinese and Western (for Western I mean "European") music.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parthenon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jul-2006 at 11:43
to flyingzone, as to Chinese traditional music, I'm afraid I cannot give you any specific ideas of my own, for I'm a layman in that area.Embarrassed
 
I've tried your link and saw your statements, they are already very profesional, as i see it. What I know about, you already have mentioned.
 
But  your question of "Did Confucianism limit the potential of Chinese music?" according to my knowledge, cannot have a definite yes or no answer. Because when you said "limit", that was compared with seven agents of the western music. If there were a kind of music that contained more than seven agents, would you say that it would be more harmonic because of it's philosophy?
 
As for partly yes, because Confuciansim as a major philosophy did have great influence on Chinese culture, and of course on traditional Chinese music, and that leads to the pentagonic nature of it. I've listened to many, though as you perceive lack of  harmonic density, I feel  quite natural and smooth with them. Maybe I was born to accept this harmonic  because I'm a Chinese.Smile But that doesn't matter with my fond of modern music whether east or west with seven agents. In other words, when I listen to traditional Chinese music, I love the way it is. And perhaps, harmonic or perfect music is not that absolute.
After all, tomorrow is another day.:)
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