Related Posts with Thumbnails

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Chinese VS Christian 11th Century Ceramics

This is a new ceramic piece from  Franz (see HERE and HERE). They have an outlet at Takashimaya but the prices are very high there. They are much cheaper in Taiwan. I would say the pieces are comparable in quality to Lladrò (see HERE) though the styling is very different.

When you observe the dubious fashion sense of the PRC tourists bedecked in gaudy laces and impossibly high heels at Bali beaches, you would be lead to believe that this is a culture with absolutely no eye for beauty. They'll wear anything that has a French brand on it and match pieces together with unparalleled vulgarity.

Then you learn that the Japanese kimono is Tang dynasty fashion preserved through the ages. Then you learn that the highly codified rituals of Japanese culture descended from those of the Tang dynasty court... and you wonder, "What the hell happened to the PRC people?" How have they managed to regress from a culture of refinement to one of absolute boorishness?

I am not saying that all PRC people are boorish. A lot are though. I was peaceably reading a panel at the National Palace Museum, Taipei when a group of PRC tourists elbowed me out of the way. It was quite scary so I started using my elbows to get out of the scrum. I wasn't gentle. Gee! I am boorish too!

Anyway, I had seen an exhibition of Christian ceramic art from the 11th century in Spain. The write-ups extolled the beauty of the wares. The Husband and I looked each other askance. We did not find them beautiful. In contrast, the 11th century ceramics on display at the National Palace Museum were well executed and stunningly beautiful in their simplicity.

Christian ceramic tile art from the 10th to 12th century.

White Chinese ceramic from the 10th to 12th century. The Chinese were Coco Chanel (less is more and simplicity is hardest to execute well) even before Coco Chanel was born,

Black Chinese ceramic from the 10th to 12th century. I think the artisans respected their medium. They used the natural qualities of the material and the process to create beauty. In contrast, Christian ceramic ware shows that the artisans tried to force their mind creations upon the material and process.

Celadon with crackle glaze. Even the beauty of crackle glaze is a result of a natural process of the clay and glaze expanding at different rates.

Clean and simple lines. Very modern concept, no? Less is more?

The other parts of the exhibition were equally stunning. The nephrite Jade pieces from the Neolithic  (i.e., caveman) period and the more recent jadeite Jade pieces were absolutely breathtaking. Did you know that the mythical qualities of Jade come from having been used in the Neolithic period as common everyday tools? Axes, knives and meat scrapers. The stone was so hard and durable that these tools saved people from death in many calamities. Over time, people came to associate it with spiritual protection. Real jade (that has been untreated) is a very hard stone.

I was also mesmerised by the bronze mirrors. The fronts were burnished into a golden sheen and the backs were decorated with art. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the jade pieces and the bronze mirrors because I had (by then) been told that photo taking was not allowed. 

Thankfully, I could get to keep the photos I had already taken.

No comments: