A Gwailo's View of Han Zi !
A Blog featuring my experiments with Han Zi and digital typographic art and articles on Chinese derived characters. Also some articles on Chinese characters in general and their use of multiple Asian languages.
I've shown you eagles and other birds painted or printed in a variety of styles, chinese, japanese, ukiyo-e, ming, kano, rimpa, shinhanga, bunjinga and more.
Now here's one by Ito #Jakuchu.
Its very ... well the only word I can use in English is POINTY ... angular doesnt seem strong enough!
There's a basic s-curve composition and the tonal gradients of the brush strokes are arranged in a strong striking pattern of grays and blacks contrasting to white areas and Jakuchos distinctive use of white outlines. The contrast should look awkward and jagged rather than expressive but such is Jakuchu's design skills and genius that it all works together!
During the Ming and Qing dynasties the adding of embroidered patches to the jackets or outer robes of scholars, mandarins, aristocrats, courtiers and military officials and officers became a formal system. Imperial Princes and the Highest ranking Aristocrats worn dragons. Lower civil ranks had birds and the Military Animals like Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Bears and Rhinos.
This silver pheasant would have marked its wearer as being of the 5th rank in nine rank system with the highest ranks wearing Cranes and the very lowest Quails or Orioles.
Thee are many articles online about this ranking system and the pricing of antique robes.
You will also modern replicas used for cushion covers advertised but what I want you to consider is this: the women who did the embroidery.
Chiang Yee in his autobiography describes his father painting embroidery patterns for the women of his household but I wonder how many of these women would have rather had lessons in how to paint for themselves, would have preferred a brush and inks and pigments to a needle and dyed silk threads?
I wonder how many women in military households would have rather been studying martial arts or books of strategy?
These patches and other Chinese embroidery are very beautiful but I wonder how many women did embroidery because it was the only outlet they had.
Thankfully in this century many women get more choice but spare a thought for textile workers be they embroiders, silk spinners and weavers, or garment finishers. Check you're buying those handicrafts from a genuine co-op or a workshop thats signed on to an ethical manufacture agreement.
I've shown you birds by masters of Chinese flower and bird painting and Japanese masters of #ShinHanga #Rimpa and #Ukiyo-e . For a change here's a Japanese #NANGA or #Bunjinga style work by Yosa Buson also a creator of Haiku.
The monochrome coloring adds to the drama of the paired scrolls featuring two crows and what may be a hawk or an eagle on the right. Note the balance of curves and diagonals rendered by expressive broad brushstrokes.
Here's a close-up of one area of a famous Chinese #sansui #landscape.
People wirte about how chinese painting doesn't use tonal contrast or shadows to create depth and yet in works like this contrasting tones of ink near black and lighter grays do create an illusion of depth, of water flowing past and thru dark recesses and cliffs from a higher place downwards into a larger body of water and note how the plainer tones contrast also with the texture strokes in the foreground!
One should also bear in mind the silk this was painted on may have darkened since this is hundreds of years old but the darkening has strengthened the contrast.
Okay since I was sick double posts to make up for my absence today!
Some of you may already know about the interactions of China and the Islamic world via ceramics.
Sancai and later blue and white ware and polychrome ceramics were developed partly in response to imports from Mesopotamia of lead glazed earthenware polychrome and later Iznik ware was partly a response to imports of Chinese blue and white wares.
Another example of how the interaction went both ways is this #Ilkhanid #phoenix #ceramic #tile
The rhythm and layout is very Chinese but note the Islamic influence on the floral ornaments !
No culture exists in isolation.
Is this "cultural appropriation" or interchange and fusion?