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Chinese Jade, Gold Exhibition Tells of China's Early Cultural Exchange
Jade and gold have always been cherished by the Chinese since time immemorial, but an exhibition featuring many glittering collections that give an insight into China's early cultural exchange was opened Thursday evening in Hong Kong.

The exhibition, which is also the inaugural exhibition for the new gallery at the Hong Kong Museum of Art in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), already drew a big throng in the evening.

Consular officials, artists, private collectors and top HKSAR government officials and the press flocked to the museum to take a first glimpse at 400 or so glittering jade objects of arts drawn from across the different periods of the Chinese history.

Inaugurating at the exhibition, Paul Leung, the HKSAR director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, said since the ancient time, jade wares and gold wares have been significant relics for research into the Chinese culture. "Such wares have a significant place in the then politics, economics, culture, craft of thought, national tradition and religion of the respective time periods."

One example of China's early cultural exchange cited is a set of Hindustan or northern Indian jade wares presented to the Qing Court by a tributary state, explained chief curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art Christina Chu Kam Luen.

She said that Chinese jade carving is so dominant that its influence is discovered in foreign works, but there has not been much trace of foreign influence on Chinese jades.

"Although motifs reflecting cultural exchange appeared in the Tang Dynasty between 618-907, the stylistics and the technical virtuosity are still attributed to Chinese craftsmen.

"The importation of genuine foreign jades occurred in Qianlong period (1735-1795) of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)," Chu said.

But Betty Lo, a private collector who shared her private collections with the public at the current exhibition, showed Xinhua how the other way round is the case for gold wares in China. She zoomed in on her so called Mengdiexuan collection consisting of a Tang Dynasty technicolor comb back, some hair pins and a headdress.

"Persian influence had a bearing on this collection in the style of gold carving. You know how prosperous the Silk Road was at that time, as a result some Central Asian or western influence would have influenced the art," Lo said.

Christina Chu also said the design students of decorative art also should not miss the exhibition to obtain the creative muse from the praxes of ancient artistic creation.

"I think the goldsmith, the gold shops and the design schools should all bring their students to come because of the craftsmanship and the skill and artistic achievement that can be seen in this collection. There is so much to learn,"

The current exhibition is the third of the so called "Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth: Gems of Antiquities Collections in Hong Kong" series of exhibition, in which most of the exhibits are on-loan from private collectors, Paul Leung said

"It's been the job of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to deepen the Hong Kong citizens' and the tourists' understanding of our Chinese culture," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2002)

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