Lee Kong Chian Collection

 

 

 

 

Wu Changshou (1844 – 1927)
Excerpt from Shiguwen in seal script
1914
Ink on paper
137.8 x 69.4cm

The earliest extant work of calligraphy engraved in stone found in China is the Shiguwen engraved in 374BCE. The Shiguwen refers to the text engraved on 10 pieces of Shigu (drum shaped stones). The text, which is a poem, was engraved in big seal script comprising four characters in each line. It is an exaltation of the Qin emperor on his hunting trips. This scroll is an excerpt from the first stone.

Wu Changshou was a highly acclaimed calligrapher, painter and seal engraver. His style of seal script derived its roots from the Shiguwen. However he did not merely copy the calligraphic strokes of the Shiguwen. He infused his work with the rhythmic feel of running and cursive scripts. The fusion of the various scripts resulted in the creation of a distinctly personal style rich in harmony and flow.

 

 

 

 

Gao Qifeng 高奇峰 (1889-1933)
Landscape
Undated
Chinese ink on paper

38.2 x 59 cm
 

 

 

 

 

Green-glaze Bowl with Moulded Decoration
Song Dynasty (960-1279)
Yaozhou Ware, Shan'xi
4.5 x 15 cm

In northern China, Yaozhou ware enjoyed equal prominence to Ding ware. It is decorated using similar carving and moulding techniques of the Ding ware, and has a glaze colour of olive green or brownish yellow. To connoisseurs of the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), Yaozhou ware was "as intricate as gilding and as exquisite as jade carving".

Yaozhou kilns are found in Yaozhou, Shaanxi province. The production period spanned from the Tang (618 – 907) to the Yuan (1271 – 1368) dynasties. Yaozhou ware attained such a high standard that it was given as tributes to the imperial court of the Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1126). 

 

 

 

 

Green-glazed Vase
Southern Song-Yuan dynasties (1127-1368)
Longquan Ware, Zhejiang
20 x 8.5 cm

Longquan ware is a new type of green-glazed ware which replaced Yue ware in the south. The glaze of Longquan ware is thick and opalescent. Its varied shades of green give the ceramic a jade-like quality.

The flourishing domestic and foreign trade in South China during the Southern Song (1127 – 1279) and Yuan (1271 – 1368) dynasties boosted the production of Longquan ware. The major kilns were located in eastern and southern Zhejiang province. There were also kilns in Jiangxi and Fujian provinces that were imitating the Longquan style. 

 

 

 

 

Jade Pendant in the Shape of a Dragon
Warring States period (475 – 221 BCE)
16.5 x 9cm

In ancient China, jade referred to stone of various types and colours and was highly treasured. Jade ornaments were important ritual objects as well as markers of power and status

 

 

 

 

Bronze TLV Mirror with Multiple Nipples
Eastern Han Dynasty (25 – 220)
17 cm

Within the geometric design (the square and eight nipple shaped knobs) found on the mirror are hidden codes to the beliefs of the ancient Chinese. The central knob represents core of the universe. The square outside the knob represents the earth while the round shape of the mirror symbolizes the sky. The eight nipple shaped knobs outside the square strand for the eight pillars that support the sky. The 'T" shapes denote the spaces between the earth and sky. The 'V' patterns signify the four seas and the 'L' symbols are doors preventing the entry of demons into the earth. The circular band of inscriptions found on the mirror is made up of 21 characters in small seal script.

The secret message in the mirror is unlocked by pieceing together the various decoded pictograms and inscriptions – that humanity lies at the centre of the universe, moving together in cycles for eternity, while propagating the earth with countless decendants.

 

 

 

 

Gilt-bronze Mask
Liao Dynasty (916 – 1125)
21 x 18.5cm

Precious metal masks have been unearthed from the tombs of the Khitan nobility. The Yelu clan was one of the clans of the Khitans, a proto-Mongol people living on the fringes of the steppes in Manchuria. In 907 the Yelu clan united as many as ten Khitan tribes and formed a federation, the Liao Dynasty.

The ruling line of the Yelu married exclusively with the Xiao clan. When a Yelu woman married into the Xiao clan, her parents would give her a set of burial clothes, including a mask and a suit woven with metal filigree netting. This custom was recorded in historical documents and confirmed by archaeological findings.

 

 

 

 

Wucai Dish with Shou (Longevity) Decoration
Marked: Da Qing Qian Long Nian Zhi (1735-1796)
Jingdezhen Imperial Ware, Jiangxi

2.9 x 14.5cm
This exquisitely potted imperial porcelain dish is decorated with a peach tree heavily laden with fruit. The convoluted branches form a stylized shou (longevity) character. The same motif appears on the exterior of the dish, complemented by decorations of peaches, orchids and lingzhi fungus. Objets d'art which are richly endowed with auspicious meanings such as this were highly popular during the Qianlong period

 

 

 

 

Circular ink slab with landscape decoration
Marked: Yu Wenshi zhi
19th century

14 x 2.4cm

Pine trees and pavilions by the side of the lake, set against a landscape scene adorn the front of this ink slab. Above the scene is an inscription of a poem by Wen Zhengming in running script. Wen (1470 – 1559) is a celebrated calligrapher and painter from the Ming Dynasty.

On the reverse is a poem in a square frame surrounded by dragons flying amongst clouds. The poem in regular script was originally written by Emperor Qianlong for one of his ministers, Guan Huai, who was in charge of national etiquette and rules governing tributes.

The engraving on this ink slab is executed with great skill and finesse. Impressive pieces such as this were possibly commissioned by eminent officials as tributes to the emperor.

 

 

 

 

Tang Zhigang 唐志冈
Children In Meeting
2002
Oil on Canvas

180 x 210cm
 

 

 

 

 

David Kwo
Yellow Sparrows 黄雀
1994
Chinese ink and colour on paper

67 x 44cm
 

 

 

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