slide binus - Binus Repository

Matakuliah : E1154/ Seni & Budaya China
: 2008
Pertemuan 11 & 12
Seni Kerajinan tradisional China
Bina Nusantara
Bina Nusantara
Bina Nusantara
Bina Nusantara
Bina Nusantara
Bina Nusantara
Bina Nusantara
The abacus was a great invention in ancient China and has been called by
some Western writers "the earliest calculating machine in the world."
The abacus has a long history behind it. It was already
mentioned in a book of the Eastern Han Dynasty, namely Supplementary
Notes on the Art of Figures written by Xu Yue about the on the counter of an
apothecary's. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 year 190 A. D. Its
popularization occurred at the latest during the Song Dynasty (960-1127),
when Zhang Zeduan painted his Riverside Scenes at Qingming Festival. In
this famous long scroll, an abacus is clearly seen lying beside an account
book and doctor's prescriptions ), the abacus was introduced into Japan.
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Abacuses are easy to make, handy to carry around and quick to give the
answers, provided one knows how to move the beads. They have been in use,
therefore, down to this day. They are made in different sizes, and the largest
known abacus, measuring 26 centimetres high by 306 centimetres long with
117 rods (for as many digits), is over a hundred years old and is kept at
Darentang, a well-known traditional pharmacy in Tianjin.
The beads on an abacus may be round or rhombus in shape. Traditionally,
there are two beads above the horizontal bar and five below. Simplified
modern versions have one bead above and four or five below. The methods
of calculation remain unchanged.
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At a time when the world has entered the age of electronics, the abacus still
enjoys undiminished vitality in China. Tests have shown that, for operations of
addition and subtraction, the abacus is still faster than the electronic calculator.
China developed in 1980 an "electronic abacus " which combines the speed of
traditional addition and subtraction methods with those of the modern calculator
at multiplication and division. It is a happy example of the integration between
the East and West, the native and the modern.
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Cloisonné, whose history can date back to over 500 years ago, is well-known
traditional enamelware. It is actually called the "Blue of Jingtai" as blue is the
dominant color adopted for enameling and cloisonné became prevalent during
the reign of Jingtai (1450--1456) in the Ming dynasty. Owing to the brilliant
color and splendid designs, cloisonné has been highly appraised at home and
abroad. Regarding the making of cloisonné, it involves quite elaborate and
complicated processes: base-hammering, soldering, enamel-filling, enamel
firing, polishing and gilding.
Cloisonné is famous traditional enamelware, known as the "Blue of Jingtai" in China, with a
history of over 500 years. It is so called because "blue" was the typical color used for
enamellings and "Jingtai" was the reign title of the 7th Ming emperor's reign. Enamelware
became very popular during the emperor's reign. There is a great variety of products, such
as the traditional vase, jar, bowl, plate, box and ash-tray. A great number of new varieties
have also been created. They are brilliant in colors and splendid in ensign and enjoy a high
reputation both at home and abroad. Cloisonné is one of the famous arts and crafts of
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Procedure of Cloisonné-making
1. Base-hammering
This is, in fact, the work of a coppersmith. As copper is easily hammered and stretched, it
is employed to make the body of cloisonné. A sound judgment is required because it
determines the uniformity of thickness and weight. In contrast to the work of a
coppersmith which is ended when the article is shaped, base-hammering is just the
beginning in the making of cloisonné.
2. Filigree Soldering
The second step can be compared to embroidery, as both require great care and high
creativity. The only difference is that instead of embroidering on silk, the cloisonné
craftsman adheres copper strips onto the copper body. 1/16 inch in diameter, these strips
are shaped into what the artisan requires, usually a complicated but complete pattern.
With a blueprint in mind, the craftsman exerts his experience and imagination in setting
the copper strips on the body.
3. Enamel Filling
Then comes to enamel filling, which requires such basic elements as boric acid, saltpeter
and alkaline. Due to the different minerals added, cloisonné appears different in color.
Usually one with much iron will turn gray, with uranium, yellow, with chromium, green,
with bronze, blue, with zinc, white, with gold or iodine, red. After ores are ground into fine
powder and contained in plates, workers apply them on the little compartments separated
by filigrees.
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4. Enamel Firing
Put the article to the crucible and in a moment the copper body will turn red. In time of firing
re-filling is repeatedly required, as the enamel in the little compartments will sink down a little
after firing.
5. Polishing
To make the filigree and the filled compartments even, the artisan has to polish the half
finished products again and again. First emery is used. Then after the whole piece is put to
fire again, a whetstone is employed for polishing. In the end, a piece of hard carbon is
required in order that the article will obtain some luster on the surface.
6. Gilding
Lastly, place the article in gold or silver fluid with changing electric current so as to keep the
cloisonné free from rust. Another electroplating and a slight polish are demanded for the
exposed parts of the filigree and the metal fringes of the article.
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Fancy lanterns, a special handicraft product of Chinese tradition, are widely used for
decorations in the country on festivals and holidays, on weddings and other personal
On the whole, they consist of a frame made of metal wire or bamboo strips covered with
paper or thin gauze and then painted over to be attractive. There is also a kind with a
collapsible redwood frame that can be taken apart and folded up when not in use; it makes a
good tourist souvenir.
Many types of traditional lanterns fit with the description of "fancy"; those commonly seen
include palace lanterns, lanterns with revolving figures, gauze lanterns, wall lanterns and
glass silk lanterns. Those hung on the Tower of Tian'anmen are red gauze lanterns of an
unusual size. In old times they were commonly called qishifeng deng (the lantern that
enrages the wind) because, coated with fish glue, it was windproof while allowing the candle
light to shine through. Today, of course, electric lights have long replaced the candles.
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Outstanding among various lanterns is the one with revolving figures
known as zouma deng in the country. It usually looks like a pretty
paper pavilion with upturned eaves and corners. It is ringed by a
number of coloured figures of men and animals, or a panoramic
landscape of mountains, rivers and flowers, either painted on or cut
in paper, that revolve like a merry-go-round.
This kind of "roundabout" lantern may be traced to the Tang and Song dynasties about 1,000
years ago. The figures or pictures stand on the circumference of a wire frame which is
fastened at the centre to a vertical shaft pasted with paper vanes. Propelled by the heated air
from the lit candle, the vanes turn the shaft, making the frame with the figures revolve. Today
this kind of lantern has become more elaborate and beautiful, but the basic structure remains
the same. It shows that the Chinese already grasped in ancient times the principle of
transforming the current of hot air into mechanical revolution.
A series of special postage stamps of various lanterns was issued by the Chinese postal
authorities in 1981. Totalling six pieces, they show fancy lanterns of different shapes: a flower
basket, a coloured ball, dragon-and-phoenix, a treasure box, grass-and-flower, and a peony
plant. The designers, employing techniques of traditional "fine brushwork", gave the pictures
a dazzling brilliance and brought them to life.
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印章 Seal-cutting
Seal-cutting is traditionally listed along with painting, calligraphy and poetry as one of the
"four arts" expected of the accomplished scholar and a unique part of the Chinese
cultural heritage. A seal stamp in red is not only the signature on a work of calligraphy or
painting but an indispensable touch to liven it up.
The art dates back about 3,700 years to the Yin Dynasty and has its origin in the cutting
of oracle inscriptions on tortoise shells. It flourished in the Qin Dynasty of 22 centuries
ago, when people engraved their names on utensils and documents (of bamboo and
wood) to show ownership or authorship. Out of this grew the cutting of personal names
on small blocks of horn, jade or wood, namely the seals as we know them today.
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As in other countries, seals may be used by official departments as well as private
From as early as the Warring States Period (475- 221 B.C.) an official seal would be
bestowed as token of authorization by the head of a state to a subject whom he appointed to
a high office. The seal, in other words, stood for the office and corresponding power.
Private seals are likewise used to stamp personal names on various papers for purposes of
authentication or as tokens of good faith.
Seals reflect the development of written Chinese. The earliest ones, those of the Qin and Han
dynasties, bear the zhuan or curly script, which explains why the art of seal-cutting is still
called zhuanke and also why the zhuan script is also known in English as "seal characters".
As time went on, the other script styles appeared one after another on Chinese seals, which
may now be cut in any style except the cursive at the option of the artist.
Characters on seals may be cut in relief or in intaglio. The materials for seals vary with
different types of owners. Average persons normally have wood, stone or horn seals,
whereas noted public figures would probably prefer seals made of red stained Changhua
stone, jade, agate, crystal, ivory and other more valuable materials. Monarchs in the old
days used gold or the most precious stones to make their imperial or royal seals. Today
Chinese government offices at lower levels wood ones.
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Seals cut as works of art should excel in three aspects-- calligraphy, composition and the
graver's handwork.
The artist must be good at writing various styles of the Chinese script. He should know how to
arrange within a limited space a number of characters-- some compact with many strokes and
others sketchy with very few-- to achieve a vigorous or graceful effect.
He should also be familiar with the various materials-- stone, brass or ivory-- so that he may
apply the cutting knife with the right exertion, technique and even rhythm.
For the initiated to watch a master engraver at work is like seeing a delightful stage performance.
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雨伞 Umbrella
China is believed to be the home of umbrellas, which are still universally used in the
country. The earliest umbrellas are known to have existed at least two thousand years ago
and were made of silk.
At present, umbrellas in China are made of various materials: oilpaper, cotton, silk, plastic
film and nylon. As in other countries, they are used either against the rain or as parasols to
give shade from the sun. Some are built on straight frames while others are collapsible.
The best oilpaper umbrellas are generally thought to be those from Fujian and Hunan
provinces. Their bamboo frames are treated against mould and worms. The paper covers are
hand-painted with flowers, birds, figures and landscapes and then coated with oil so that they
are not only practical but pretty and lasting. They may be used either in rain or sunshine.
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The prettiest Chinese umbrellas, however, are those covered with silk, and the silk parasols
of Hangzhou are veritable works of art which also serve a practical purpose.
The silk, as thin as cicada's wing and printed with landscapes , is also fixed on a bamboo
A parasol of Hangzhou, usually 53 centimetres or 20 inches long, weighs only 250 grams or
8.8 ounces, is very handy and makes a welcome souvenir for tourists. Local girls, to protect
themselves against the sun, like to carry parasols with them, which have long become part of
the female attire.
Umbrellas or parasols, apart from their practical uses, have also become part of the
paraphernalia of the stage artist. A notable example is the wire walker who uses a parasol as
a balancer to keep herself on the wire.
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刺绣 Emroidery
Embroidery, a folk art with a long tradition, occupies an important position in
the history of Chinese arts and crafts. It is, in its long development,
inseparable from silkworm-raising and silk-reeling and weaving.
China is the first country in the world that discovered the use of silk. Silkworms
were domesticated as early as 5000 years ago. The production of silk thread
and fabrics gave rise to the art of embroidery
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• According to the classical Shangshu(or Book of History), the
"regulations on costumes" of 4000 years ago stipulated among other
things "dresses and skirts with designs and embroideries". This is
evidence that embroidery had become an established art by that
remote time.
• In 1958 a piece of silk was found in a tomb of the state of Chu of the
Warring Sates Period (475-221B.C). It is embroidered with a dragonand-phoenix design. More than 2000 years old, it is the earliest piece
of Chinese embroidery ever unearthed.
• The art became widespread during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220
A.D.); many embroidered finds date back to that period.
Today, silk embroidery is practised nearly all over China. The best
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commercial products, it is generally agreed, come from four provinces:
• Embroidered works have become highly complex and exquisite
today. Take the double-face embroidered "Cat", representative work
of Suzhou embroidery, for example, the artist splits the hair-thin
coloured silk thread into filaments-half, quarter 1/12 or even 1/48 of
its original thickness-- and uses these in embroidering concealing in
the process the thousands of ends and joints and making them
disappear as if by magic. The finished work is a cute and
mischievous-looking cat on both sides of the groundwork. The most
difficult part of the job is the eyes of the cat. To give them lustre and
life, silk filaments of more than 20 colours or shades have to be
• Recently, on the basis of two-face embroidery have developed
further innovations-- the same design on both sides in different
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风扇 FAN
• The first fan probably came into being quite accidentally: a primitive
man, irritated by flies and mosquitoes, might have picked a big leaf off
some nearby plant and fanned the annoying pests away. Much to his
delight, he found this fly-driver could also bring him coolness. This
lucky man, hence, became the inventor of this popular accessory.
• In ancient China, fans, apart from the simple purpose of swatting pests
and keeping cool, have acquired many other kinds of significance. Over
3,000 years ago, imperial families adopted long-shafted fans made of
birds' feathers for court performances and ceremonies. These fans
usually resembled the gorgeously colorful tail of mythical phoenixes.
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The Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - A.D. 220) enjoyed an abundance of clothing
materials, and this was when silk and satin fans were introduced. To show their
talents, scholars and artists began to write poems or paint on surfaces of fans.
Soon, fans acquired considerable social significance and became very popular
among the elite and the learned.
• Palm fans were made in the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD) and have been widely
used by the Chinese people. They are very useful and welcomed by people of
less expensive taste.
• Around 1,000 years ago, folding fans were introduced into China from Japan
and Korea. They were usually made with fine paper mounted on bamboo strips.
The scholars, to their delight, found them more suitable for writing or painting.
Thanks to their portability, these fans are still widely used in China, especially
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during travel in the sweltering summer.
• The fan family is widely varied. Sandalwood fans have become a
favorite with ladies because of their pleasant fragrance. Made
entirely of wood, sandalwood fans are beautifully shaped and
carved with delicate designs, A great variety of fans have been
produced in China; Sandalwood, ivory, even gold, silver and jade
have been used as material. Actually, these fans serve more of an
ornamental purpose rather than a practical one, by greatly
enhancing the elegance and charm of a lady.
• In traditional Chinese operas, fans are always indispensable props.
Waving their fans in different ways, characters can reveal their inner
character in different situations.
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剪纸 Papper-cut
Paper-cut is one of China's most popular and characteristic folk arts. It takes
paper as the material and scissor or engraving knife as the tool. The tradition
can be traced back to the 6th century. However, it probably emerged even a
few centuries earlier. Paper-cuts are mainly used as decorations and patterns,
and for religious and decoration purposes.
According to usage, paper-cutting works can be categorized into three types.
First, paper-cutting works ornament gate, window, wall, columns, mirrors,
lamps and lanterns in homes. It is still widely used today. At some important
festivals, for example at the New Year's Festival, it is very significant to put
some paper-cuts on entrance gates. They are supposed to bring good luck for
the family. Paper works are also used for decoration on presents or are given
as presents. Second, they were used for religious purpose, serving as
decorations for sacrificial offerings to the ancestors and gods. Third, some
paper-cuts are made into embroidery base patterns used in decorating clothes
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and lacquer work.
The paper-cut art has been widely spread and of a long history. It has exerted
an influence on decorative patterns, leather silhouette, printed cloth,
embroidery and paintings. Folk paper cutting outlines the natural forms by
way of employing characters, symbol and implication to constitute beautiful
patterns. Various paper objects and symbolic figures used to be buried with
the deceased or were burned. It is still the case in some part of China.
Paper-cuts are produced by hand, not by machine. There are two methods of
manufacture: scissor cuttings and knife cuttings. The former one is fashioned
with scissors. Several pieces of paper, up to eight pieces, are fastened
together. Then, artists cut the motif with sharp, pointed scissors.
• In knife cutting, artists put several layers of paper on a relatively soft
foundation consisting of a mixture of tallow and ashes. Following a pattern,
the artists hold a sharp knife vertically and cut the motif into the paper.
Considerably more paper-cuttings can be made in one operation with knife
cuttings than with scissor cuttings.
• As a form of folk art, it occupies a significant position in the folk activities. As
early as the Southern Song dynasty, professional paper-cutting craftsmen
have emerged. Today, in the countryside, usually only women and girls make
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paper-cuts. It used to be even one of the craftsmanship that every girl was to
Window Paper-Cutting
Window paper-cutting means the type of paper-cutting works pasted on
windows as an ornament. In the north of China, farmers' houses are mostly
windowed with wooden squares. It is commonly seen that a layer of white
leather paper is pasted on the vertical squares, rectangular squares or
geometrically patterned squares. In case of some important holidays, such as
Spring Festival, instead of the old leather paper, new paper-cutting work is
pasted as a symbol of bidding farewell to the outgoing year and ushering the
New Year in. The fauna and flora, figurines as well as a series of theatrical tales
can all become the themes of the window paper-cuts.
• Gate Label
It is a type of paper-cutting works that hang on the gate sills. It is also called
"hanging label", "hanging money". It is in the form of flag with big head, double
size and lower part as tassel. It is engraved on red paper or multi-colored paper,
with geometrical patterns. Embedded with figures, flowers, phoenix, dragons
and the other propitious characters, the gate label must be hung in series when
hung up.
• Festive Paper-Cutting
It is used to decorate the household appliances and indoor furniture, such as
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teapot, soapbox, basin, and dressing mirror. It takes the form of circle,
Gift Paper-Cutting
Gift paper-cut is attached to cake, birthday noodle and egg. In Shandong
Province, people attach it onto the "happy egg" to celebrate a baby's birth.
Tortoise-patterned paper cuts symbolic of longevity are commonly seen in
the countryside of Fujian Province.
• Shoe Paper-Cutting
Served as the base pattern for shoe embroidery, it is cut into a bundle of
flowers or a shape of crescent moon, which are embroidered on the head of
shoe or matched to the size of the shoe vamp and along the two ends. With
themes of flora fauna and birds, shoe paper-cut makes possible doubled
needling and color changing, two embroidery techniques.
• Douxiang Paper-Cutting
It is mainly used as decoration on the occasion of sacrificing rituals. It is
engraved on the wax polished paper of double color. Its themes usually
include spirits and other legendary characters.
• Paper-Cutting Flower Bundle
This kind of paper cutting has a layout pattern. It takes a form of a circleshaped flower with four even sizes. The paper can be folded up and cut into
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a flower bundle in four even sides. This pattern has its great merit in