Shenyang Palace Museum

April 26th, 2014 No comments

Address: Liaoning Province, Shenyang City, Shenhe District, Shenyang Road, #171

The Dazheng Hall in the Shenyang Palace Museum

The Dazheng Hall in the Shenyang Palace Museum

The Shenyang Palace Museum is located at the center of Jing-zi Dajie Center in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. It covers 60,000 square meters and is a history museum with collections and exhibits that deal mainly with Qing dynasty art and artifacts.

Formerly called the Fengtian Palace Museum (sometimes, people called it as Later Jin Palace or Shengjing Palace), then the National Shenyang Museum, in 1954 it was officially renamed the Shenyang Palace Museum. In 1961, the State Council placed it among the ranks of National Key Cultural Relics Protected Units. The permanent exhibits of the museum are divided into two parts, one showing historical artifacts of the court and the other showing Qing-dynasty arts and crafts.

The Shenyang Palace Museum is the only well preserved group of ancient palace buildings in the country except for the Beijing Palace Museum. The complex is divided into three parts, the Eastern Way, the Central Way, and the Western Way. The architecture of the main building of the Eastern Way is characteristic of a horseriding arrow-shooting people who used tent palaces; this Dazheng Hall once hosted tremendous ceremonies.

The original throne display in the Dazheng Hall

The original throne display in the Dazheng Hall

The main building of the Central Way was where the emperor held daily meetings with his court to conduct governmental affairs and receive ministers. Inside, objects are arranged as they were during the Qianlong period. Inside a separate hall to the west are objects used by the emperors Qianlong and Jiaqing as these two emperors made their long investigative trips through the country.

The Phoenix Tower in the Shenyang Palace Museum

The Phoenix Tower in the Shenyang Palace Museum

On the western side of the Shenyang Palace Museum are riding grounds where horses were kept and trained, also a pavilion in which the emperor watched plays when he did his ‘eastern sojourn.’ There is also a reconstruction of a Ming-dynasty pavilion from Ningbo, which is one of the seven halls in the Qing dynasty to receive a copy of the famous Yongle-period encyclopedia known as the Siku Quanshu, or the Four Warehouses of All Knowledge.

Most of the Shenyang Palace Museum collections of documents and artifacts date from the Qing dynasty, though some are from the Ming. Many are of interest for their historical value but some are of great artistic value as well, such as paintings by Dong Qichang (1555-1636), a famous Ming painter and calligrapher.

Some of the more representative treasures that have been exhibited from the collections of the Museum are Qing-dynasty weapons, musical instruments, palace accouterments, ceramics, carvings, textiles and embroideries, lacquerware, and amber.

Shanghai Museum

August 17th, 2013 No comments

Address: Shanghai, Peoples Great Road, #201

A wood carving Guanyin statue of the Song dynasty

A wood carving Guanyin statue of the Song dynasty

The scope, depth and quality of its collections, and the striking architecture and use of modern technology make the Shanghai Museum one of the most famous if not the most famous in China. It covers an area of 38,000 square meters, with a scale that surpasses the old museum severalfold. The exterior of the museum utilizes the shape of an ancient bronze ding, specifically a Chen ding, with its rather archaic flavor. The structure and materials of the entire building, however, are an accomplishment of the most modern technology.

The Shanghai Museum is mainly a museum for ancient arts. At present it is divided into ten sections. These are: ancient Chinese bronzes, sculpture, ceramics, jades, seals, calligraphy, coin and currency, paintings, Ming and Qing-dynasty furniture, and crafts of China’s national minorities. In addition to these ten permanent exhibitions, the museum often holds small-scale exhibitions and also exhibits articles from elsewhere on a short-term basis. The Museum also exhibits its material in museums both within China and abroad. Among the holdings of the Museum many items are superlative works of art and are unique in the entire country. These include in particular the bronzes, calligraphy, paintings, and Ming and Qing furniture. China’s Shang and Zhou-period bronzes are an important testimony to the ancient civilization of the country. When visitors enter the Ancient Bronzes Hall, the presentation and atmosphere of the rooms expresses the cultural atmosphere of the bronze age. The subdued dark-green tone of the walls imparts an ancient atmosphere, the simple and elegant display cases and the lighting are carefully designed to enhance the experience.

Some 400 exquisite bronze items are displayed in a space of 1,200 square meters, perfectly reflecting the history of the

Da Ke ding (a kind of ancient vessel)

Da Ke ding (a kind of ancient vessel)

development of China’s ancient bronze arts. The Calligraphy Hall includes works from many dynasties; in chronological order it displays the history of the marvelous genius of Chinese calligraphic arts. The aura of the hall is scholarly and elegant, assisted by automatic lighting in display cases that protects the art by shining only when the visitor is viewing a work. Among these works are a number of unique world treasures.

The Chinese Painting Hall of the Museum similarly has a touch of traditional architectural style to it, combined with an atmosphere of Confucian elegance. Around 120 masterpieces are displayed in the 1,200-square-meter exhibition space. These date from the Tang dynasty to modern times but do not include contemporary works.

The apex of Chinese furniture creation occurred during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Walking into the Ming and Qing Furniture Hall is like walking back into the gardens and rooms of the Ming and Qing dynasty. In some 700 square meters of space are exhibited some 100 pieces of superlative Chinese Ming and Qing-dynasty furniture. Among these are Ming pieces that are fluid in line and harmonious in proportion. The Qing pieces have more complex ornamentation and are often made of thicker, heavier wood.

The underground part of the Shanghai Museum also has some courtyard gardens that imitate authentic Chinese traditions. Although these are hidden deeply underground, their architecture and environment seem light and airy.

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Packaging

July 21st, 2013 No comments
Shang Dynasty jade dagger-axe treasured in Palace Museum. The silk and hemp fabric packaging closely adhered to the surface owing to the passage of time.

Shang Dynasty jade dagger-axe treasured in Palace Museum. The silk and hemp fabric packaging closely adhered to the surface owing to the passage of time.

Packaging is closely related to people’s daily life. Traditionally the guidelines on packaging in China are always “for the convenience of the users” and “pleasing to the eyes.”

In earlier days, natural materials were used in packing such as tree leaves, bamboo, lotus leaves, palm leaves, gourds, cocoanut shells, shells of shellfish, animal skin, etc. Later on, man-made material were used including fabrics, ceramics, metals, lacquer ware, woodware, jadeware, paper, etc. As early as the late years of the primitive society, packaging had already started. Bamboo tubes, gourd shells, cocoanut shells, earthen jugs, etc. were used to hold liquids; baskets made from bamboo or willow twigs, were used to hold solid objects. Sometimes commodities were directed wrapped in bamboo leaves, lotus leaves, etc. In China materials, ornaments and styles in packaging differ in different historical periods, changing with the productivity, and scientific and technological development, and conforming to the fashion of the time.

The pottery wares emerged in the Neolithic Age was the first great invention of man-made packaging materials. In comparison with natural materials, they have the advantages of being durable, antiseptic, and anti-worm-eaten. They also excel in long-distance transportation and in being various in forms. It is interesting that the earliest food cans were discovered in China – the twelve airtight food cans unearthed in Baoshan of Hubei in 316 B.C. These cans were tightly sealed with multi-layer materials such as straw mats, bamboo leaves, wet clay, etc. Individual cans were cased with bamboo baskets having a handle above for convenient carrying. On the outmost layer, silk was covered before they were tied up with thin bamboo strips or silk ribbon, which were sealed with clay, attached with label bearing the description of the food contained in the can. By this process the food can be kept for a long period of time without going bad or discoloring.
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