Chinese treasures go on show at Glasgow's top gallery

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An exhibition of rare Chinese art went on display Saturday at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum, one of the leading visitor attractions in Scotland.

The exhibition features a collection of some of the wonderful porcelain, bronze and Jade from the Chinese Dynastic periods collected by Glasgow businessman and benefactor Sir William Burrell.

The items include Tang Dynasty (618-907) tomb guardian figures, elaborate forms of ritual bronzes that are more than 2,500 years old and a rare Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) blue-and-white tankard.

It also features a Tantalus Cup which has the figure of a woman in the middle. It's a 500-year-old practical joke which pours liquid onto the victim from a hole in the bottom once the cup is filled to the brim.

The 63 objects are made from either jade, ceramic or bronze and have been picked from around 1,800 pieces from China in the city's Burrell Collection.

Burrell's collection, gifted to the city by the renowned collector, is normally displayed in their own gallery at Pollok Park. But that building is undergoing an 83-million-U.S.-dollar facelift prior to being re-opened in 2021.

The amount of Chinese works in the Burrell Collection represents the third largest collection in Europe. It contains around 146 pieces of jade which date as far back as the Shang dynasty, 170 bronzes and more than 1400 ceramics including objects from the Neolithic period.

The new free to visit the temporary exhibition is giving people a chance to see a selection of Burrell's collection, one of the biggest in the world to be gathered by one individual, while its permanent home is closed.

The items exhibited at Kelvin Grove have been chosen by Jorge Welsh, an internationally renowned collector, dealer and expert in Chinese art with galleries in London and Lisbon, and Dr Chung Yupin, curator of Chinese and East Asian Art for Glasgow Museums.

Sir Angus Grossart, chairman of Burrell Renaissance said: "It was Chinese art which was the largest part of Burrell's gift to Glasgow. His supreme standards are reflected in the exceptional ceramics, jade and bronze objects which are on display at Kelvingrove. Their significance has grown enormously since his death as we have developed wider cultural understanding and curatorial knowledge."

Co-curator Welsh said: "With almost 2000 individual pieces, the Burrell Collection's Chinese art is one of the most relevant, world-class collections of its field. The exhibition includes some of the most fascinating examples of bronze, jade and ceramic pieces."

Dr Chung said: "Inspiration and pleasure were key aspects to consider when we were selecting the objects for the Collecting Chinese Treasures exhibition at Kelvingrove. Burrell's gift of his collection connects audiences to their past, to rich and varied cultures, to inspiring ideas and to places in Glasgow and Scotland where the history of these Chinese objects developed their intercultural context."

To coincide with the exhibition, a recital featuring a seven-string qin, known as the ancient zither, China's quintessential classical instrument, takes place on Tuesday at City Halls, Glasgow. Li Xuecui, a highly acclaimed musician from Nanjing, China, will be making her Glasgow debut. 

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