Author: Joyce Kwong

Chinese Longevity Locks & Other Children’s Accessories

Chinese Longevity Locks 长命锁 In a world where life was fragile and people felt at the mercy of nature and disease, many traditions involving amulets and charms were established to bring a sense of hope and control.  The earliest “good luck” charms were fashioned after coins bearing auspicious symbols such as the sun & moon, swords, turtles, and snakes and date as far back as the Han Dynasty (221-206 BC).  It was later, during the periods of the Six Dynasties (220-586 AD) and the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD) that charms for “longevity” became more common. Coin-shaped amulets continue to be popular...

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Taotie Inspiration from Chinese Ritual Bronzes

Inspirations from Chinese Ritual Bronzes: Taotie The magnificence of the bronzes of Shang and Zhou periods (1600-1046 BCE and 1046-256 BCE) have not only captured Chinese audiences for centuries, but the Western world as well, and especially now through recent archaeological excavations.  In ancient times, bronzes were crucial in ritual ceremonies, and the ability to control the challenging aspects of their production solidified the status of the ruler, who had the power and resources to create such technologically advanced products for that time period.  Many of these archaic bronzes were buried in royal tombs, however over time, examples floated...

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Auspiciousness in Chinese Art

Chinese art is deeply embedded with auspicious motifs believed to bring good fortune.  If ‘seeing is believing’, the Chinese took such positive energy and expressed it in visual form from folk to fine art. Such auspiciousness was not only self consumed, but when shared as gifts, the receiver is accepting the giver’s well wishes. Due to the large amount of homonyms in the Chinese language, many rebuses are based on the play of words transformed visually. Besides pun, inherent and natural qualities of certain items are also weighted in this tradition of symbolism. The lexicon of this matter is...

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Zhang Daqian: Vision of a Splashed Landscape

Zhang Daqian or Chang Dai-chien (1899-1983) is one of the most prominent and celebrated artists of the 20th century in the world.  As one of the more prolific artists, he left behind a legacy as a master painter.  He is known for his great breath of work, who mastered various traditional Chinese painting styles including the monumental landscapes of the Song dynasty to the Buddhist figural paintings of the Mogao caves in Dunhuang.  His capacity to produce classical paintings was to the point where prized pieces at major museum were speculated to have been produced by the hands of...

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Yu Youren and His Importance in Chinese Ink Collections

Yu Youren (1879-1964) has an important place in the world of Chinese calligraphy for a variety of reasons. Not only did he understand how to use the power of word to spark change, he also worked to transform calligraphy itself into a more usable and readable form through his cursive script development. For anyone looking to develop a serious collection of Chinese calligraphy, Yu Youren pieces are important because of his role in history as a major transformer.

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