Photo of a man from the Philippines and Le Tigress, Shang Dynasty, Ancient China, 1600 B.C
A bronze wine container from the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century-11th century BC) is one of the highlights in the new book.[Photo provided to China Daily]
Objects featured in the latest book include a Shang bronze wine container with a handle called you. The vessel is shaped like a tiger holding a man in his fore limbs. The form has opposite explanations: Some see it as a tiger just about to eat a man, while others suggest the man personifies something evil from which a “tiger god” is trying to protect humans.
The Cernuschi Museum in Paris houses a bronze vessel of great resemblance.
The new book includes 57 classical Chinese paintings among which a piece titled Qiu Ye Mu Niu Tu (Autumn’s Field and Cow Herding) is believed to have been executed by Song painter Yan Ciping. Yan served as a court painter and was adept at drawing cows.
Other cataloged master painters in the book are Tang Yin, Xu Wei and Shi Tao.
Konan says Sen-oku Hakuko Kan has been serving as a window introducing people in Japan and the world to Chinese cultural traditions, and its collaboration with the NMC on the book has widened that window further, enabling more Chinese to also know about the Japanese museum’s collections.
Lyu Zhangshen, director of the NMC, says UNESCO’s incomplete statistics show that about 1.64 million Chinese cultural relics are dispersed across some 200 museums and cultural institutions abroad, and the details of a considerable amount of them are lesser known to the public.
He hopes the books will not only benefit scholars and museum researches at home, but also populate the knowledge among ordinary people, many of whom will visit such museums when traveling abroad.
During a media briefing at the launch of the volume on V&A Museum’s collections last year, Lyu had said that other world-renowned museums such as the British Museum, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Paris’ Guimet Museum might collaborate with the NMC on the project in future.
The show, Passion for Porcelain, displaying Chinese ceramics kept at the British Museum and the V&A Museum, drew crowds of visitors at the NMC in 2012.
Chen Lyusheng, deputy director of the NMC, says the museum plans to upload the books on its official website so that more people can read them.
As the museum cooperates with some primary schools on compiling teaching materials on Chinese art and culture, museum officials hope the books’ contents will be useful for teaching purposes.