Date: November 1-30 , 2006
Opening Ceremony: 15:00, November 1, 2006
Place: The South Africa National Cultural History Museum
Works of art, a formation of civilization combining the experience of survival, development and the aesthetic taste of human kind, reveals not only the characteristics of handicraft culture and the humanism, but also the unique cultural and psychological state of various nations in different regions. It is imbued deeply with such a humanistic mood that some countries’ names are directly related with the arts and crafts. For example, China means china that is porcelain and earthenware, and Japan means lacquer ware. Phoenicia, the name of an ancient Mediaeval country, means purple-red fabric.
Chinese works of art, with its long history, exquisite skill and rich variety, is a lustrous pearl in the treasure-house of culture and art of human kind. Stately and magnificent jade carving, richly decorated lacquer made with special skill, elegantly molded and painted ceramic and the delicate embroidery from the southern regions of the Yangtze River reflect the glistering wisdom of Chinese masters of works of art, who created superb art treasures with outstanding craftsmanship and versatile skill and added a splendid page to the history of world civilization.
The China Fine Arts & Crafts on exhibition here, about two hundred pieces in all, are the classics kept in the China National Arts and Crafts Museum and include eight categories: jade carving, stone carving, wood carving, lacquer, ceramic, metal craft, embroidery and folk handicraft. The perfect combination of traditional and modern art idea and the fruit of scientific research represents the typical oriental artistic flavor and the highest level of modern Chinese works of art, which guarantees the satisfactory artistic enjoyment for the visitors.
Brief Introduction of China National Arts and Crafts Museum
China National Arts & Crafts Museum boasts of a collection of treasures of ivory sculpture, jade sculpture, wood sculpture, stone sculpture, pottery, ceramics, lacquer ware, metal crafts, gold or silver ware, gauze embroidery, natural plant basketwork, and folk crafts, etc., most of which are the masterpieces by the great Chinese arts and crafts masters. It is a national museum and the treasure house of arts and crafts in China.
In recent years, many masterpieces of the museum have been shown in the government-sponsored international cultural exchanges, such as the “Chinese Culture’s Tour to the United States” in the year of 2000 and “Experience China” in Brazil in 2004, etc. These pieces were warmly welcome by the local people and won praises from all walks of the host country.
Chinese ceramics has a long history. The ancient Hemudu people over 7000 years ago were already able to make colored pottery (which requires a temperature under 1050°C), and people of the Eastern Han Dynasty could make ceramics over 1900 years ago (which requires a temperature above 1280°C), 1700 years earlier than the people in Western countries. With the culture advances, the use of pottery and ceramics has gradually turned from utensils to ornamental works of art.
Chinese lacquer ware boasts a history of over 5000 years. It is made with a mixture of various refined colorful natural lacquer through such procedures as polishing, carving, filling, painting, and jade and spiral shell embedding, etc. Contemporary lacquer ware bases mainly include Beijing, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, and Sichuan, etc.
With a long history of over 7000 years, Chinese jade carving enjoys the reputation of “the essence of oriental arts” in the world. The jade carvings have different kind of forms, mainly in the shape of human figures, birds, animals, flowers, and utensils. Chinese crafts masters make use of the natural texture, shape, and luster of the jades and carve them into masterpieces of carving with excellent skills.
Chinese stone carving enjoys a long history and was famous for its outstanding achievements all over the world as early as in Han and Tang dynasties. The craftsmen made full use of the different colors of the stone materials and sculpted them into various masterpieces through adroit skills. The 4 major grottos—Mogao Grotto in Dunhuang, Yungang Grotto in Datong, Longmen Grotto in Luoyang, and Maijishan Grotto in Tianshui, whose construction began in Han dynasty and completed in Tang dynasty, are all immortal artistic treasure houses.
Chinese wood carving originated in the Spring and Autumn Period (from 770 B.C. to 476 B.C.). The techniques of wood carving can be divided into freestanding, engraving, relief, deep relief, etc. Chinese wood carving features clear cutting and smooth lines. Famous wood carvings include the Dongyang wood carving in Zhejiang, gold-lacquer wood carving in Guangdong, boxwood carving in Wenzhou, and Longyan wood carving in Fujian, etc.
Chinese metal crafts originated from the Shang dynasty (from the 17th century B.C. to the 11th century B.C.). At that time, the refining techniques of bronze was already very sophisticated and many exquisite, imposing masterpieces were produced and passed to later ages. Modern metal crafts mainly include cloisonné, ceramics, gold- and silverware, jewelry, filigree works, as well as bronze ware and tin ware, etc.
China is famous as the “country of silk” throughout the world. It is the earliest in silkworm raising, filature, silk weaving and dying, and silk embroidery in the world. In the history, silk brocades, embroideries were exported to Persia, Rome, and other European countries through the famous Silk Road and played an important role in the cultural exchanges between the East and West.
Chinese folk handicrafts are closely related with the Chinese people’s daily life. Throughout the long history, there have been developed hundreds of types and thousands of varieties of folk handicrafts. These works have greatly enriched Chinese people’s life.
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
Department of Arts & Culture of the Republic of South Africa
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of South Africa
(China.org.cn October 29, 2006)