Posts belonging to Category Asian Art



GIFTS OF THE SEASON

Driving into the city this morning, I was greeted by a most spectacular sight – the snow-capped Olympic mountains in full view, rising majestically against a clear blue sky.  

It took my breath away, but also filled me with delight.

“What a gift!” I thought  to myself.

Apparently, the ritual of shopping for, and wrapping gifts was on my mind. ‘Tis the season after all.

In the whirlwind of holiday activity, it’s nice to slow done once in awhile and appreciated the simple beauty of nature, or the familiarity and warmth behind our annual traditions.

In a few days, families across the country will be gathered beneath the Christmas tree, enjoying the end result after weeks of shopping and holiday preparation – including, of course,  the unwrapping of presents.

Have you ever noticed that there are various ways to unwrap a gift?

For example, some of us might tear into the package with gusto, leaving a pile of shredded paper and ribbon on the floor. Others are known to unwrap a present ever so carefully, with the intent of saving the paper and bows to be used again next year.

On a recent excursion to a museum, I was introduced to the ceremonious creation of a Japanese scroll painting.

Compact and lightweight, a Japanese scroll hangs effortlessly on a wall. Yet it is preceded by a complex process.

This unique work of art – carefully rolled up and tucked inside a custom made box – is subsequently removed from its’ box in a ceremony steeped in tradition, very much like the unwrapping of a present.

It might surprise you to know the effort that goes into producing this exquisite art form.

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SENTIMENTAL VALUES

The ancient Chinese revered their ancestors.                                            

Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in the ancient Chinese bronze vessels used for sacrifice.

These priceless objects were part of an elaborate ritual ceremony to commemorate the deceased, based in part, on the belief that one’s’ ancestors would continue to watch over you from the afterlife.

As long as you kept them happy, that is.

In those days, Bronze was an expensive metal, not easily obtained. It was reserved for use by the elite members of the aristocracy and upper class citizens – those that could afford to honor their ancestors properly.

Thus, by offering food and wine in these intricately carved bronze bowls and ewers, honor was maintained.

In our Western culture, we have a different set of customs that dictate how we honor our loved ones, and we do this primarily through family heirlooms and treasured keepsakes.

A common practice is to cherish an object that we know was previously loved by the deceased – such as an antique chair, a decorative object or other works of art.

It’s as if our loved ones live on in these keepsakes, and so, for sentimental reasons, we continue to keep them in our homes and our hearts.

However, at some point, we may need to ask ourselves whether these family treasures are still fulfilling their original purpose.

Do you truly love those keepsakes that you’ve treasured for so long? Are they inherently beautiful?

Or, is your devotion due to sentimental reasons only?

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