Arts and Crafts
It is common knowledge that China has a long history and glorious history in both arts and crafts. The arts and crafts are not only the embodiment of the people's longing for aesthetic beauty for themselves and as gifts for others, but also great treasures for China and the rest of the world.
China's traditional arts and crafts command a great part of the country's rich heritage. Since ancient time, Chinese society has cherished excellence in its arts. Over centuries, Chinese arts and crafts have developed its own unique styles and forms, beautiful and popular with distinctive national features. Singing, sculpture, calligraphy, painting, carving and others are the timeworn forms of expression in Chinese arts. From furnishings to household items, many have distinct ethnic characteristics. Artists and craftsmen from different periods and dynasties have created many valuable items with their clever hands and consummate skills.
Bronze Vessels, invented some 5,000 years ago that led the ancestors of modern China from the Stone Age into a new era - the Bronze Age. The bronzes produced being delicately decorated with a diverse range of designs and motifs and were widely used in many aspects of life, such as musical instruments, ceremonial offerings and weapons of war being of great significance in Chinese history.
Painting The most common and accessible form of Chinese art is painting. Traditionally done in ink, rather than oil, paintings are usually on paper or silk and hung as scrolls. It is divided into three genres - figures, landscapes, and birds-and-flowers and each type has its distinctive characteristics. In addition, difficult skills are required to the painters of Chinese painting.
Calligraphy to which people both then and now attach great importance this highly stylized form of writing and has been developed by many eminent calligraphers of many different dynasties. Referred to as the ‘four treasures of study' (writing brush, ink stick, paper, and ink slab) are regarded as the indispensable tools when writing. Since the Qin Dynasty standardization of written characters, five main schools of calligraphy have emerged. The seal script (Zhuanshu), clerical script (Lishu), regular script (Kaishu), running script (Xingshu) and grass script (Caoshu). These forms are very fluid and lack the regularity of other scripts, instead expressing an individual style.
Chinese Poetry was another central Chinese art form. Already important at the time of Confucius, poetry was a form of expression that showed one's mastery of the language. Strict in meter, rhyming, and parallelism, Chinese poetry demanded that beauty, insight, and depth be formed to a rigid structure. The Tang Dynasty was the high point of Chinese poetry, as later poets became more obscure and allusive in an effort to retain the forms of their elders without copying their work.
Music dates back to between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago. Featured with unique melodies within different Chinese dynasties and accompanied with Chinese traditional musical instruments.
Chinese Opera is recognized as one of the three oldest dramatic art forms in the world. Traditional Chinese opera, also known as Peking or Beijing Opera, is another art form that reflects the history and culture of the country. It is a combination of music, art and literature and is characterized by the unique facial make-up, excellent acrobatics and has many different regional variations. The history and legends presented through arias sung to accompanying music are only part of the treat of an opera experience. The costumes, acting, dancing, and acrobatics involved are also spectacular.
Folk Toys are items that have a long history and a combination of artistic appreciation and playful enjoyment, and endowed with numerous meanings that express the people's wish for a happy and contented life.
Embroidery originated in the Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC), and now has four major traditional styles: Su, Shu, Xiang, and Yue. It is also an accomplished skill for the Chinese ethnic minority groups such as the Bai and Miao.
Cloisonne is an enamel artwork with the primary color being blue. It is renowned for its use of high-quality material, complex manufacturing process and its use of bright and vivid colors.
Jade having a history of four thousand years, Jade symbolizes merit, grace and dignity and occupies a special position in people's consciousness. It is used both to decorate rooms, and as jewelry by people hoping for a blessing.
Kites being delicately made of paper and bamboo and are of numerous shapes such as swallow, centipede, butterfly etc. Regarded as an artistic marvel, the kite makers' skill in both painting and in the design of the kites' flexible flying movement are well renowned.
Lacquer Ware first appeared some 7,000 years ago with the primary colors being black and red. It is of various types and has a wide range of uses that makes it favored by people throughout the entire world.
Paper-Cutting is diversified patterns cut into red paper with scissors. Different patterns such as monkey, flowers and figures can be cut vividly and perfectly by some female artisans in rural areas. People paste paper-cuttings onto their windows and other places to express their hopes and wishes.
Porcelain and Pottery are perhaps the most familiar forms of Chinese art to Western eyes. These, along with the bronze vessels and figurines that preceded them, are invaluable historical records because they were used as household and ritual items. Notably, the Chinese were the first to develop porcelain. Figures and statues of clay, wood, or metal remained important decorations; no house was complete without lion-like fu dogs guarding its doors. Porcelain is characterized with fine texture, bright colors, and distinctive shapes and styles. Jingdezhen, located in Jiangxi Province is the Porcelain Capital of the world and attracts countless people from near and far to appreciate, and buy the choicest porcelain around. Chinese accomplishments in pottery works can be seen from Terra Cotta Warriors, in Xian, Shaanxi Province, and the Tricolor Glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) and so on.
Seals can be made of metal, jade, animal tooth or horn and carved with characters. It is a combination of Chinese calligraphy and engraving that people cherished in the old times and likes nowadays.
Silk, a silkworm produces 1000 meters (3280feet) of silk thread in its lifespan of just 28 days and is of great value. Major local silk products in China are Shu, Yun, Song Brocade and brocades by ethnic minorities such as the Zhuang and the Dong peoples are well renowned.