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Art in China, the Country of China!

Hello, dear friends! This is Lyu, and I hope you all are having a great time out there!I’m really excited to see what art is like in everyone’s home country! As you know, the name of my country, China, is the same as the name of “china”. Decorated china used to be the symbol of my country, so it’s not hard to see how art is important to China.People’s passion about art is everywhere in daily life, from the house we live in and the clothes we wear, to tea pots.

People’s passion about art is everywhere in daily life, from the house we live in and the clothes we wear, to tea pots.

There are so many things that might not make sense to you, such as jade chess and other objects that seem useless and not practical at all, but each item carries a meaning in Chinese culture. By the way, wearing a gold chain, no matter how thick it is, does no good to your body, while wearing jade is actually good for your health, and people usually wear a jade Bodhisattva to avoid bad luck.

Why do Chinese people paint the bowls and plates? Why do they make drinking tea so complicated?

That’s because in the old times, when there wasn’t much entertainment, people lived a slow life and wanted to be pleased. So, they made every little thing a piece of art so that they could look at it and enjoy the delicate painting and the grace of art anytime they wanted to.

Besides china and jade, we also have many other forms of art such as calligraphy, painting, paper cutting (you can actually try these here at Willamette!), carving (including ice sculpting, which is a popular event in the North, where people use ice to carve pieces of art), and clay figurine making. What is amazing about carving is that the best artist can carve a vivid picture on a nut the size of your nail! There’s another thing called candy figurine blowing which is similar to clay figurine making except it’s a street snack, and a good one!

The most luxury works belong only to the emperors. Those dictators used to own everything. Only emperors could have something with dragons carved on it. And these pictures below are
either in the Forbidden City or in the summer palace.

Most of you have probably heard of Terracotta Warriors which is a collection of  clay soldiers in the big grave of an emperor. What you might not know is that this grave is 56 square kilometers and 78 times bigger than the Forbidden City. The area open to public is only the tip of the iceberg. The word on the street is that many workers who were inside the grave while building it were buried alive once the construction was over. Another masterpiece for emperors is the Jade Burial Suit which is made from jade pieces and golden silk. This is designed for the body of the emperor after he’s dead.

Other important things include statues, the Beijing Opera, and other pieces of art I can’t remember now.

Unfortunately, with all these priceless treasures, the art in China has a weak existence right now. In high school, I had art class once every two weeks and only in 10th and 11th grade. In other cities, it’s even worse. I never took a class about art history. If you try to pursue a major in art, not only will your parents not allow you to (as far as I’m concerned), but society itself does not seem too ‘tolerant’ of it. So, in my opinion, it’s not the young people’s fault that they are not persistent enough to fight for the dream; it’s the system that is to blame. People are talking about money even when it comes to art. Almost every exhibition about Chinese art is an auction, in which people  discuss the price of fine china. I feel like people can’t calm down and enjoy the pure beauty of art just like the ancestors did. That is not the right context for young people to stick to what they really like. In my experience, parents control everything in their children’s life. If you see a Chinese student in a university, it’s very safe to guess that he’s a math or economic major. They were led to believe that that field is one that can get you rich. Art is not considered important because it’s not a big money maker.

If there is an excuse for this, it would be that we lost almost every war starting with the Opium War. This was a nightmare for the world of art. They were either taken away or destroyed.  Now the art works are scattered all around the world, like in Europe, Japan and Taiwan.

But that’s a terrible excuse. It’s really sad that a kid who could have spent some good time with art was forced to study math, for money matter.

I’m really surprised and glad that there are a lot of students studying art here, and hopefully in other countries too. No matter if you can secure a job being an art major, you should keep it going if you really enjoy it. It brings harmony and pleasure to your mind and makes you appreciate life better. Art, and music, is something everyone can share. So forget about jobs. If you are studying art, you are doing it for yourself and everyone in the world.

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