Mao still remains an adored cult figure immortalised in statuary

Mao busts at museum Taiyuan Shanxi Prov Orientally YoursThere is a museum dedicated to the memory of Mao Tse Tung in Taiyuan in China’s Shanxi Province. Here is a display of small busts and figures. Such statuary has been made, and is still being made, as souvenirs and keepsakes. There are still many Mao followers about despite widespread controversy of his Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution policies which, many people think, caused widespread distress and death amongst fellow Chinese.

Shao shan HunanManufacturing busts and staues of Mao still goes on. A photo taken in a factory in his home town of Shaoshan.

tumblr_oon2xxjYAi1rrpskqo3_1280 Dang Guihong owns a vast collection of materials related to the Cultural Revolution. Here he is pictured with a part of his collection at his home in Yuncheng, Shanxi Province.

mao-best-low-res This is thought to be a unique two-thirds life size porcelain statue of Mao Tse Tung. One of just two made in Jingdezhen and numbered ‘2’, it is dated October 1 1967, when the Cultural Revolution was at its height. It is being offered by Chinese Art in Scotland at a cool £500,000 (www.chineseartinscotland.co.uk). The problems in making such a large white porcelain piece are legion and there would have been many failures {possibly as many as a hundred) in the process of making and firing this successful version. It was formerly housed in the Chinese Embassy in Rome.

Revivalism in modern China means Mao Zedong is still very much revered, and he is already commemorated with statues across the country and a portrait over Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. In 2013, to mark the 120th anniversary of his birth, a solid gold incarnation worth 200 million yuan (£20 million) was inaugurated in his home village of Shaoshan, with busloads of followers flocking to pay tribute.

Happy Chinese New Year! Calling all Roosters

This weekend sees the celebration of Chinese New Year and we take the opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy New Year!

The upcoming year is, of course, the Year of the Rooster.

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Long tradition. A Tang Dynasty painted terracotta Rooster.

The Rooster ranks tenth out of the 12 animals in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. 2017 is a year of the Rooster.Every 12 years there is a Rooster year, beginning at Chinese New Year. A year of the Rooster always comes after a Monkey year and before a Dog year.

Years of the Rooster include 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029.

2017 Is a Fire Rooster Year. In Chinese astrology, each zodiac year is not just associated with an animal sign, but also one of five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth.

Both the zodiac sign and the element shape the astrology of the year. For example, 2017 is a Fire Rooster year. Element-sign combinations recur every 60 years.

The following famous fire Roosters will be 60 this zodiac year: Dawn French, Donny Osmond, Martin Luther King III, Stephen Fry, Hans Zimmer, Dolph Lundgren, and Jools Holland.

Both zodiac sign and element are believed to affect one’s personality and destiny. Below are the five types of Roosters:

Type of Rooster Year of Birth Characteristics
Wood Rooster 1945, 2005 Energetic, overconfident, tender, and unstable
Fire Rooster 1957, 2017 Trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work
Earth Rooster 1909, 1969 Lovely, generous, trustworthy, and popular with their friends
Gold Rooster 1921, 1981 Determined, brave, perseverant, and hardworking
Water Rooster 1933, 1993 Smart, quick-witted, tenderhearted, and compassionate

 

Information courtesy China Highlights

A Merry Christmas to all our readers!

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Here is a very cheerful fun picture (courtesy www.dfic.cn) to enliven your Christmas morning! Santa’s elves do look a mite chilly but they paint a delightful picture. The photograph was spotted in an article in the magazine of Chinese Branding. The article concluded that ‘sex sells’! We could have told them that for nothing . . .  Enjoy your Christmas!

Christies celebrate 250 years with Shanghai events

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Li Huayi (born 1948) Old Pine To be sold by Christies in Shanghai next month    Estimate £130,000-200,000

This October, Christie’s Shanghai are mounting two Autumn Auctions and viewings to celebrate Christie’s 250th anniversary. They feature a curated selection of exceptional artworks, a preview of selected jewellery from Hong Kong Autumn Auctions, international highlights and art forums.

Auctions and viewings will take place at two locations between October 18-22: First Open | Shanghai Chinese and Asian Contemporary Design Christie’s Shanghai Art Space Ampire Building, No. 97 Yuanmingyuan Road, Shanghai and Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art Chinese Contemporary Ink Post-War and Contemporary Art with an auction October 22, 2:30pm and 6pm at the prestigious Peninsula Hotel, Shanghai No. 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Shanghai.

 

Mahjong score cards are now collected!

2 girls play mahjong 1924 via Orientally Yours

Two young girls play mahjong almost 100 years ago. These girls are clearly playing at home rather than in a public or commercial situation.

We now live in an age when everything is collected – no niche activity is too obscure. Indeed, the more obscure the activity, the more dedicated is the collector! Mahjong, of course, is not actually an obscure activity in itself. It originated in China and is a game normally played by four players. It a game of skill, strategy and calculation but also involves a considerable degree of chance. It is usually played with a set of 144 tiles based on Chinese characters and symbols (there are regional varaiations): each player, to begin, gets 13 tiles and players draw and discard further tiles. It is sometimes said that the Western card game ‘rummy’ shares a common origin with mahjong.

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The game was imported into the United States in the 1920s. These score cards date from that period. They are Mahjong score cards, c. 1923. They come from from the exhibition, “Project Mah Jongg” that was on view from May 4, 2010 through February 27, 2011 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and that explored the traditions, history, and meaning of the Chinese game in Jewish-American life from the 1920s to today.

Source: Project Mah Jongg

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Incense making factory enjoys historic legacy

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The history of Taiwan’s Da-Ching Incense Making Factory can be traced back to more than 150 years ago when the ancestors of the present owners started selling joss papers and sticks as a family business.

The actual incense-making factory was first established by their great-grandfather Mr. Mao-Gui Hsieh in 1945. It is now a fourth-generation operated family business headed by Mr. Po-Chuan Hsieh. It has succeeded in keeping the traditional skill alive in a modern society. Although, like so many other businesses, they are facing the problem of the soaring price of the raw material and decreasing uses of incense, they are resolved to pass the skill down to the future generations.

Thanks to International Wood Culture Society and orientally yours on Tumblr.com.

The Peabody Essex Museum shows significant Chinese art Part 3

We have written over the past couple of weeks about the splendid and quite unique collection of Chinese art to be found within The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachussetts (USA).  Amongst the collections held there is a quite breathtaking series of gouache paintings vividly illustrating the vigorous ongoing trade between foreign countries and the traders of Canton (Guangdong) during the 1820s.

16 images for joss houses 1825 guangzhou

This image is captioned as ‘images for joss stick sellers’. It appears to depict a shop selling Buddhistic and other devotional figures associated with the burning of joss sticks and incense in a devotional situation at the temple or at a personal shrine. Ca. 1820-5, Canton, gouache on paper. Courtesy The Peabody Essex Museum.

These are unique not just as a collection but also because of their freshness and crispness, unaffected by the passage of almost two hundred years. They would have been executed for the export market and are not unique in themsleves. What is, however, very special is the fact that they have been so well preserved as a collection.

16 metal articles Peabody Essex gouache on paper

Metalware store in Canton, ca. 1820-5. This image painted in gouache seems to include many items made in the archaic style (copies of ancient artifacts from early dynasties). Courtesy Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachussetts.

16 porcelain shop 1820 Guangzhou

Chinese porcelain shop, Canton, ca. 1820-5. Note the porcelain garden seats depicted (bottom left) and which are clearly destined for the export market. There are vases of various forms which would be contemporaneous in origin and certainly not antique items. The vases would probably have been manufactured in nearby Jingdezhen. Gouache on paper, ca. 1820-5. Courtesy The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachussetts.

The Peabody Essex Museum shows significant Chinese art Part 2

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The Yin Yu Tang Chinese house at The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Massachussetts. Photo by Rickinmar, via Tumblr

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a prosperous merchant named Huang built a stately sxteen-bedroomed home in China’s southeastern Huizhou region, calling his home Yin Yu Tang. This Chinese name implies the desire to create a home to shelter generations of descendants. In 1982, though, the last descendant left the village and it has now been removed, piece by piece, to the unlikely location of Salem, Massachussetts as a result of tha city’s close historic links with the China trade.

Originally, the home was oriented in the village according to well established principles of feng shui, to ensure a harmonious relationship with the landscape and it was constructed according to local traditions of building and local customs. Coins were placed under structural columns to bring prosperity to the home and its occupiers. The first floor bedrooms have intricately carved lattice windows that look out onto two fish pools in a central courtyard. Lots of small details in the building inform the viewer about the aspirations, identity and creative expression of the Huang family, as well as simply telling us about architectural style. There is a magnificent accumulation of furnishings which, again, tell us about things as varied as global trade and connections between China and America, finely developed personal taste and historical preferences.

Yin Yu Tang house Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum displays significant Chinese art Part 1

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Not only is The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachussetts (USA) possibly the oldest continuously operating museum in the United States, but it also has one of the best collections of Chinese artifacts anywhere in the world. Its holdings in total are some 1.3m. pieces. The present museum had its origins in the East India Marine Society (1799), founded by a Salem-based group of sea captains in the Eastern trade, and it inherited its collection of Far Eastern objets. Its collection wa merged with those of the former Peabody Museum of Salem and the Essex Institute which bnrought about the current curious-sounding nomenclature.

One extraordinary aspect of the Museum’s collection is its acquisition of complete historic houses and contents: it has set these, some 24 in total, in its own grounds, transplanted from their original sites. One of these houses is the home of the Chinese Huang family, a stately six-bedroom house from China’s south eastern Huizhou region known as Yin Yu Tang (we shall write about this remarkable preservation in the coming weeks).

Below we illustrate some of the outstanding exhibits within the Museum.

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Detail of a large punch bowl made in China and given to the Salem merchant Elias Hasket Derby in 1786. The Derby ship Grand Turk was only the third American ship to trade with China. In 1801 the punch bowl was presented to the East India Marine Society, which became the PeabodyEssex Museum where it is still on display today. Photo by Rickinmar, via Tumblr.com

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A blue and white Chinese export platter, date about 1740 and with a view of the 16th century English residence Burleigh House. From thecollection of The Peabody Essex Museum Photo by Rickinmar, via Tumblr.com

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Detail from a gouache painting of trade in Cantonese waters during the first half of the 19th century. The picture well captures the vigorous, breathless nature of the trade which took place with Europe and the US at that time. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachussetts.