Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ink and name stamps

The first thing we, as a class, noticed about the Shanghai Museum was its very “un-Chinese” architecture. Some hated it, others were indifferent, I happened to like it. I think the architecture of a building is very telling of it’s contents. Not so for the Shanghai Museum, or at least the exhibits we saw. The building is somewhat reminiscent of a stadium and stands on the uglier side of the scale, while stately stone dragons, dogs and other animals guard the door. Inside, the atrium has rich mahogany banisters that end in a golden dragon’s head.
Ink is a large part of ancient Chinese culture. Not only is it used for painting, but ink and brush is the writing instrument of choice. The paintings we saw in the Chinese painting gallery featured both black and white and color paintings as well as vertical and horizontal scrolls. 
What I found the most interesting was the signatures. One year for our family reunion, my grandparents gave everyone their own jade name stamp, but mine is certainly not as intricate or stylized as the artist’s! I really like the gourd shaped one. I’ve only seen square name stamps and I also liked that it looked like a little person.