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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Masterpieces of Chinese Art - Visiting the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

The collection of The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing is truly amazing

The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing, also known as The China Museum in Beijing is a wonderful collection of the "official" Chinese Art through history.

Situated in the famous Tien An Men square and recently refurbished, the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing offers a good collection of old and contemporary art.

We selected some masterpieces to publish in this post.
The Christian God, Buddha, Confucius and the symbols of
other religions are gathered in the foyer of The China
Museum in Beijing around the big statue of Karl Marx

Some of the masterpieces of  The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing are published here for their beauty, some others because we thought are somehow
explicative of China today, the "official" way of thinking and Mao propaganda.

Once a plain squared Leninist style building,  The China Museum in Beijing was recently enlarged and modernized at the beginning of this new millennium as the result of an international design competition.

A huge red star from the Russian-style facade of The China Museum in Beijing overlooks Tienanmen Square from the East side of the Square.

A huge open courtyard with large square pillars exalts the vertical lines of the building.

Inside the collection of The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing is truly amazing, although everything is exhibited in the classical cold, academic style and with few captions in English.

At the entrance of The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing a huge statue seems to celebrate the great celestial powers of the Earth: The Christian God, Buddha, Confucius and the symbols of other religions are gathered in the foyer of The China Museum in Beijing around the big statue of Karl Marx, human surrounded by divinities or more likely in the vision of the artist, Karl Marx, God of the Gods himself.

The painting collection

Chairman Mao's acts are celebrated in the paintings as the most inspired and maybe divine on Earth.


The painting collection of the The China Museum in Beijing is all contained in just one room with red walls. Some paintings are positioned too high on the wall to be properly admired by the visitors.

The paintings have only one subject: Chairman Mao, he and the only one.


Chairman Mao's acts are celebrated in the paintings as the most inspired and maybe divine on Earth.

In the epic pictures of the Chinese Museum of National History
in Beijing Chairman Mao harangues the Chinese people in Tianamen Square.

As  a modern Jesus Chairman Mao is represented talking patiently to the peasants and
leading them to battle by land and by sea.

Chairman Mao is represented marching on the snow capped mountains, leading his Revolutionary army or just freeing innocents in chains: in one word: bringing justice and freedom on Earth. Or so he seems doing according with the artist.


In the epic pictures of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing 
Chairman Mao harangues the Chinese people in Tianamen Square.
The colours and the lines in this pictures of Chairman Mao immediately remind of some honiric Renaissance scenes.

Chairman Mao seems in every painting to be busy to save his Chinese people from perdition.


Not a single caption in English is present in this room. This make me feel entitle to say that is not without a reason that the only painting representing Chairman Mao talking amiably with Mr Stalin is relegated at the end of the gallery, pinned so high that it will be easy to miss the painting than to actually notice it.



Chairman Mao seems in every painting to be busy to save his Chinese people from perdition.


The Collections of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

The classical collections of every good Chinese museum are present here at The China Museum in Beijing.

Calligraphy, jade crafts, wonderful fans are proudly exhibited in The China Museum in Beijing.


Below  we focus our attention on two large collections of the China Museum: The hand fans collections and the worldwide famous china pottery.


We hope you enjoy our selection.




The china pottery collection.



From Wikipedia.com:

Chinese ceramic ware shows a continuous development since the pre-dynastic periods, and is one of the most significant forms of Chinese art. China is richly endowed with the raw materials needed for making ceramics. The first types of ceramics were made during the Palaeolithic era. Chinese Ceramics range from construction materials such as bricks and tiles, to hand-built pottery vessels fired in bonfires or kilns, to the sophisticated Chinese porcelain wares made for the imperial court. Porcelain is so identified with China that it is still called "china" in everyday English usage.
Most later Chinese ceramics, even of the finest quality, were made on an industrial scale, thus few names of individual potters were recorded. Many of the most renowned workshops were owned by or reserved for the Emperor, and large quantities of ceramics were exported as diplomatic gifts or for trade from an early date.

Porcelain is "a collective term comprising all ceramic ware that is white and translucent, no matter what ingredients are used to make it or to what use it is put."[1] The Chinese tradition recognizes two primary categories of ceramics, high-fired [cí 瓷] and low-fired [táo 陶].[2] The oldest Chinese dictionaries define porcelain [cí 瓷] as "fine, compact pottery" [táo 陶].[3] Chinese ceramic wares can also classified as being either northern or southern. Present-day China comprises two separate and geologically different land masses, brought together by the action of continental drift and forming a junction that lies between the Yellow river and the Yangtze river. The contrasting geology of the north and south led to differences in the raw materials available for making ceramics.
The name "china" came from the transliteration of Changnan, which was the old name for the porcelain town of today's Jingdezhen (Jingde Town).

Here a photographic collection of the Ceramics collection at the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.


















Many of the most renowned workshops were owned by or reserved for the Emperor, and large quantities of ceramics were exported as diplomatic gifts or for trade from an early date.



The large collection of hand fans. 


The large collection of hand fans is another wonderful collection of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

The first Chinese fans can be dated to over 3,000 years ago, around the Shang Dynasty.

The first type of fan, known as Shanhan, was tied to a horse-drawn carriage to protect the travellers drom the rays of the sun or the rain falling, acting similarly to an umbrella.

The folding fan is said to be introduced to China from Japan during the late Song Dynasty. 

The most interesting folding fans were made of xuan paper or silk and beautifully painted by the local great artists of the time, the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing hosts a large collection of wonderful masterpieces.

As you can see in the photos the subjects painted on the hand fans exhibited at the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing are quite different, but I think the one of the typical, fairy I can probably say, Chinese landscapes are certainly the most impressive ones.

















The first type of fan, known as Shanhan, was tied to a horse-drawn carriage to protect the travellers drom the rays of the sun or the rain falling, acting similarly to an umbrella.





The basement floor of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

Finally I believe, as many others, that the best section is the diachronic exhibition of ancient China in the basement floor of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.



the miniature terracotta army, an exquisite part of the burial  the emperor.
Typical Chinese food containers in bronze are exhibited in  the basement floor of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

Ming style ceramics in blue and white colours will leave you breathless.


Most interesting of all in  the basement floor of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing is probably the collection of Qing Dinasty burials.



The Jade Burial Suit

A wonderfully made jade coffin is probably the most amazing piece of the collection. It is decorated by dozens of perfectly polished jade blocks. It is unique.


A jade burial suit is a ceremonial suit made of pieces of jade in which royal members in Han Dynasty China were buried.

From Wikipedia.com: "Of the jade suits that have been found, the pieces of jade are mostly square or rectangular in shape, though triangular, trapezoid and rhomboid plaques have also been found. Plaques are often joined by means of wire, threaded through small holes drilled near the corners of each piece. 

The composition of the wire varies, and several suits have been found joined with either gold or silver. Other suits, such as that of King Zhao Mo, were joined using silk thread, or silk ribbon that overlapped the edges of the plaques. In some instances, additional pieces of jade have been found beneath the head covering, including shaped plaques to cover the eyes, and plugs to fit the ears and nose.

According to the Book of Later Han, the type of wire used was dependent on the station of the person buried. The jade burial suits of emperors used gold thread; princes, princesses, dukes, and marquises, silver thread; sons or daughters of those given silver thread, copper thread; and lesser aristocrats, silk thread, with all others being forbidden to be buried in jade burial suits. 

Examination of the known suits, such as the two found in Mancheng, has revealed that these rules were not always followed. Considering the vast size of the country, and the relatively slow means of disseminating information, it is not surprising that the materials and techniques used in a jade burial suit occasionally differed from the official guidelines.

A jade burial suit was extremely expensive to create, and only wealthy aristocrats could afford to be buried in them. Additionally, the process of manufacturing a suit was labor intensive and is estimated to have required several years to complete a single suit".

Not less unique than the Jade Burial Suit is the miniature terracotta army, an exquisite part of the burial  the emperor.


Altogether the feeling you get visiting  the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing is of the uniqueness that China has to offer, a country where art reached the highest levels of beauty, following the pattern of tradition so attentively that even contemporary art today, twenty and more centuries after is so deeply based in the traditional Chinese culture.



A wonderfully made jade coffin is probably the most amazing piece of the collection. It is decorated by dozens of perfectly polished jade blocks. It is unique.



The wonderful fang of an elephant pictured below and wonderfully carved in the ivory / at Suzhou Museum *click here to read more


If you are interested in Chinese Art read also our posts about Suzhou Museum and Xian Museum to see some amazing pieces of art in China.



Are you planning to travel to China?




Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.

 


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.



 

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