Archive

Archive for the ‘Arts and Crafts in the Field of Furnishings’ Category

Gold and silver ware

July 14th, 2013 No comments
Eagle decorated golden crown top and golden crown belt of the Warring States Period.

Eagle decorated golden crown top and golden crown belt of the Warring States Period.

The major methods for processing fold articles originated from bronze making, which include smelting, mould founding, hammering, welding, bead-forming, engraving, wire-twining, wire inlay, etc., but developed or innovated. Take the bead-forming craft for example. It is an art unique to gold processing in which the first step is to let melted gold drip into warm water drop by drop to form beads of various sizes, and then by welding each tiny drop of gold, fish-egg patterns or bead-string patterns are made. Silverware turned up later than gold, and followed gold articles in working procedures.

From the very beginning gold and silver articles came out as artworks. The existing earliest gold objects were made in the Shang Dynasty more than 3,000 years ago. They were mostly ornaments, simple in shape, small in size, with less decorative patterns. The Shang-dynasty gold articles were chiefly gold and silver foil, gold leaves and sheets, used to adorn utensils; only a few in the northern and northwestern regions were used for personal adornment. Of the earlier gold articles, the gold masks and the gold staffs unearthed from the early Shu-culture ruins in Sanxingdui of Guanghan, Sichuan Province, are the most eye-catching. In the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the bronze techniques and the jade carving both facilitated the growth of gold and silver crafts.
Read more…

Bamboo carving

July 16th, 2012 No comments
Ming Dynasty brush pot, housed in Nanjing Museum.

Ming Dynasty brush pot, housed in Nanjing Museum.

Bamboo carving means to carve various ornamental patterns or characters on bamboo items, or make ornaments from bamboo roots by carving. China is the first country in the world using bamboo articles. The extant bamboo carving item early in age is the painted lacquer bamboo ladle unearthed from the Western Han Tombs No. 1 in Mawangdui of Changsha. Decorated with dragon and braids designs using bas-relief and fretwork techniques, it is a highly finished rarity.
Since the mid-Ming Dynasty, bamboo carving developed into a special art. At the very beginning, there were only a few well-educated artisans working for bamboo carving. As bamboo was easily available, more and more people started to join in this craft, some by learning from others privately, until bamboo carving became a special line with a great quantity of works left over to posterity. Bamboo joint carving is the representative variety in bamboo carving in which bamboo joints are shaped into brush pots, incense tubes, tea caddies, etc. and then its surface pierced out to make relief sculpture to produce an artistic effect.

The techniques of bamboo carving mainly include keeping green-covering, pasting yellow chips, round carving and inlaying.
Read more…

Enamelware

July 14th, 2007 No comments
Yuan Dynasty pinch-wire elephant-ear heater, housed in Palace Museum. It is a gold gilded copper coatd with enamel that looks refined and gorgrous.

Yuan Dynasty pinch-wire elephant-ear heater, housed in Palace Museum. It is a gold gilded copper coatd with enamel that looks refined and gorgrous.

The enamelware manufacturing craft is actually a complex process combining enamel process and metal process. It is prepared by first grinding quartz, silicon, feldspar, borax, ans some metal minerals into powder ans then melting and then applying on metal utensils to form a surface after backing. Sometimes polishing or gold-plating is needed. Enamelware which has he sturdiness of metal, the smoothness and corrosion-resistance of glass, is practical and beautiful. To date the earliest enamel object made in China is the Tang-dynasty gold-inlaid silver-base enamel mirror now kept in the Shosoin Repository of Nara, Japan. But no other enamelware was found in the three of four hundred years afterwards. In the late years of the

Ming Dynasty pinch-wire enamel bottle, housed in Palace Museum.

Ming Dynasty pinch-wire enamel bottle, housed in Palace Museum.

Yuan Dynasty, Chinese enamelware became less influenced by Arabian culture and more and more nationalized.

Enamelware includes gold-inlay enamel, coating enamel, painting enamel in terms of processing methods, and gold-base enamel, copper-base enamel, porcelain-base enamel, glass-bass enamel purple-clay enamel, etc. in terms of bases. Among them the copper-base enamel is he most popular, because the copper price is relatively lower, and enamel is easier to adhere to the copper surface. The distinguished traditional Chinese handicraft Jingtailan (cloisonné enamel), its scientific name being copper background wire-inlay enamel, got its name from being made in large quantities in Beijing during the Jingtai Reign of the Ming Dynasty, and the enamel used was mostly of a blue color. The procedure of Jingtailan includes chiefly base-making, wir-inlaying, firing and soldering, blue enamel coating, enamel-baking, polishing, and gold-plating. Coating is done byusing small iron spade or glass tube to apply glaze of different colors first in the background, then on the designs and then finally to the blue glaze and add some shiny white substance. Glazing and baking procedure is done repeatedly, one blazing followed by one backing, often three times are needed for quality cloisonné.
Read more…

Ivory Carving

July 17th, 2006 No comments
Shang Dynasty ivory carving kuipan (dragon-like monopode animal) cup unearthed from the Fuhao tomb at Yin Ruins, Anyang, Henan, Housed in the National Museum of China

Shang Dynasty ivory carving kuipan (dragon-like monopode animal) cup unearthed from the Fuhao tomb at Yin Ruins, Anyang, Henan, Housed in the National Museum of China

Early in the Neolithic Age, the Chinese ancients already started to use articles made of bones, fangs, and

Ming Dynasty ivory carving, human figure, 20 cm high, housed in Shanghai Museum

Ming Dynasty ivory carving, human figure, 20 cm high, housed in Shanghai Museum

horns from animals along with stoneware, wooden articles and pottery ware. Materials for carving taken from animals are mostly ivory. The animal-mask patterned ivory cup inlaid with pine-and-stone design unearthed from the Fuhao Tomb in the Yin Ruins, Henan in 1976 can be called a representative of the Shang Dynasty ivory carving.

The ivory carving craft made rapid progress in the Song Dynasty, marked by the multi-cased ivory ball named “Superlative Workmanship” using fretwork process completed by the royal handicraft workshop. On the surface of the ball relief patterns are engraved; inside the ball are several hollow balls with different size one on top of the other. Each ball is engraved with exquisite and complicated designs, appearing delicate and refined.

In the Ming and Qing dynasties, economic and cultural exchanges with South Asia and Africa promoted. Ivory material was introduced to China. Then the ivory carving art entered a period of full bloom.

In the Ming Dynasty, invory carving was mainly done in Beijing, Yangzhou and Guangzhou, and widely involved by the government, folk artisans, men of letters and refined scholars. Ivory artworks an other small-sized carved articles using bamboo, wood, gold, stone, etc. became rare curios and ornaments. At that time ivory and rhinoceros horn carvings made no difference to bamboo, wood, gold or stone carving so far as carving skills were concerned. Quite a number of craftsmen had no difficulty in carving using different materials, some were known as all-arounders in carving.

In addition to the common techniques such as single-line intaglio carving, round carving, relief carving, micro-carving, etc., there are three more unique skills in Chinese ivory carving: fretwork, cleaving-plaiting and inlaying-dying.
Read more…

Glassware

July 14th, 2006 No comments
Sui Dynasty covered pot made of green glass.

Sui Dynasty covered pot made of green glass.

Glassware containing lead and barium emerged as early as the Western Zhou Dynasty. The lead-barium glass requires a relatively low melting temperature. It looks sparkling and crystal clear, but thin and brittle, and can not resist sharp drop or rise in temperature. It is therefore unfit for making utensils or apparatuses. Often lead-barium glass was processed to make ornaments, ritual objects or funerary objects.

By the beginning of the Warring States Period, dragonfly-eye and jade-imitation glass was invented. Dragonfly-eye glass is prepared by adhering multicolor rings on top of glass beads, looking like dragonfly-eyes, thus the name. in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period, glass techniques became mature and technical exchange with foreign country started. The technical process in making glass includes casting, twining, inlaying, etc. glass objects such as bi (a round piece of jade with a hole in its center used for ceremonial purposes in ancient China), ring and sword are prepared by pouring melted glass into moulds.
Read more…