Highlights from Past Seasons
Guardians of the Dharma ...or of the Empire?
Dr. Ann Wetherell, Art History, PSU and Willamette University
June 13, 2015
How exciting is it to come across a worthy work of art which has been languishing and not fully acknowledged? Dr. Ann Wetherell discusses and explores an unpublished hand scroll of Buddhist luohans (stream crossers) in the collection at Pacific University. Signed by the professional artist Zhou Xun (1649-1729), who worked in Nanjing in the early part of the Qing dynasty, this energetic painting has much in common with the gently humorous images of luohans that gained popularity in the late Ming and Qing periods. However, aspects of this painting, in light of the biography of the artist, suggest a darker message of protest against the Manchu state.
A Journey with the Uyghur Culture in Xinjiang, China
Dr. Tugrul Keskin, Professor of International and Middle Eastern Studies, PSU
January 10, 2015
Learn about Xinjiang, a region in northwest China, its Uyghur people, and its long history of trade, commerce, and a coming together of disparate cultures, leading to cultural exchanges in ideas and precious goods between East and West along the Silk Road. Beaten into the land by traders' caravans and conquering legions about 2,000 years ago, it was the interstate highway of the ancient world, a crossroad between different civilizations. Xinjiang is also the homeland for the Uyghur culture, a large minority Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Dr. Tugrul Keskin and Yierfan Aierken, a student from Xinjiang attending PSU, will introduce us to some of the history and flavors of this region and share with us the culture of the Uyghur people in helping us understand their developmental journey towards modernization in the “New Frontier.”
Painting, Poetry, and Politics in Beijing’s Southern City - 1770-2014
Dr. Michele Matteini, Reed College
November 1, 2014
A look at the cultural life in a Beijing neighborhood from 1770 to 2014, a very special place of art and politics during the Qing Dynasty, the Revolutionary Era, and modern times. By the turn of the 19th century, Beijing’s Southern City (Xuannan District) had become synonymous with the thriving urban culture, enterprising scholarly elite, and cosmopolitan character of the Qing capital. Today, Xuannan evokes the nostalgic accounts of Republican-period “Old Beijing,” but the significance of the neighborhood cannot be fully understood without taking into account its early history. This presentation by Dr. Michele Matteini examines the making of Xuannan as a site of cultural production in the context of High Qing China (ca. 1770s-1820s). With a focus on the pictorial and literary representation of Xuannan, we will explore how an image of Xuannan was first constructed and disseminated across the city of Beijing and the empire.
Nurture and Healing: Chinese Medicine for Summer
Dr. Elise Wong
June 14, 2014
Traditional Chinese medicine is a broad range of medicinal practices sharing common concepts developed in China and based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise and dietary therapy. Such doctrines are rooted in books such as the “Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon” (1st century BCE) and the “Treatise on Cold Damage,” as well as in cosmological notions about yin-yang and the five phases. Starting in the 1950s, these precepts were standardized in the People's Republic of China. Like much of Chinese heritage, its medicinal arts are linked closely to nature, the environment, and a respect for the different seasons. Discover its historical philosophy of treating the individual rather than the disease through insight and nurturing; and how practices, while carried forward, have evolved between the pre- and current Communist eras. This lecture will focus on Chinese medicine for summer.
Carving Authority and Creating History
Lu Kesi (Dan Lucas)
September 14, 2013
For over 3,000 continuous years in China, chops, or seals, have been used in lieu of signatures on personal and official documents, contracts, and art for acknowledgment or authorship. The earliest known seals date from the Shang Dynasty (1600- 1046 BCE). By the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 AD), they were an essential part of Chinese culture and eventually spread to Korea and Japan. Seals are carved from various materials and used with red cinnabar paste. The carving and collecting of chops was a part of the Chinese literati milieu.
Celebrating the Beauty and Significance of the Magnolias
Martin Nicholson, Curator, Hoyt Arboretum
May 4, 2013
“No group of trees and shrubs is more favorably known or more highly appreciated in gardens than magnolias and no group produces larger or more abundant blossoms” stated the Chinese plant explorer, Ernest Wilson, soon after the turn of the 19th century. On land once owned by the Atfalati tribe, and leveled by fire in 1889, now stands a premier collection of trees from around the world. Curator Martin Nicholson will provide an in-depth tour of Hoyt’s nationally recognized Magnolia (Chinese Jade Orchids ) collection in its myriad colors and forms.
Penjing Beautiful: Living 3-Dimension Poetry
November 3, 2012
Penjing is an ancient cultural art embraced by the Chinese literati for connecting to nature. It reflects the love and respect for nature as it seeks to poetically express the kind of special ambience emanating from Chinese classical paintings and poetry, often a philosophical idea, principle or concept. A precursor to Japanese bonzai by 1000 years and Korean bonsei namu, penjing is not confined by rigid rules or patterns, but is more free spirited and strives to represent natural landscape by creating miniature container-grown trees or landscape groupings in small trays for limited spaces. Mark Vossbrink, our local penjing expert, will provide a brief historical discourse of this ‘joyful hobby’ and fascinating art form as it has morphed into our present times using images, specimens and a demonstration.
Reaching Across the Continents: Plants from China that Influenced the Gardens of the World
Dr. Ina Asim
May 5, 2012
When the early 20th century plant hunter Ernest H. Wilson published a book on his collecting expeditions in China, he titled it “Mother of Gardens” and stated “for of the countries to which our gardens are most deeply indebted, she holds the foremost place.” China earned this epithet for good reason: the country is home to some 31,000 native plant species, a third more than the US and Canada combined, and many of these species are endemic to China. Gardens throughout the world today are graced with flowering plants that originated in China. Dr. Ina Asim, a professor from the University of Oregon, will share a part of her recent study on gardens of China and how Chinese plants have become an integral part of the formal and everyday gardens outside of China.
The Literati Studios: Perspectives, Insights, Implements and Connoisseurship
Donald Jenkins, Curator Emeritus for Asian Art, Portland Art Museum
March 7, 2009
Donald Jenkins will share with us the unique ideals of a Chinese Scholar during the Ming and early Qing periods, what items they valued and used, and other accoutrements which they collected in their private studies. Very importantly, the significances of these many different objects and implements will be noted.
A Mountain Out Your Doorway
December 6, 2008
An essential part of the design of a classical scholar’s garden is the architecture and how it is integrated into the overall scheme or plans. To help us appreciate this significant component, we will have a unique opportunity to hear from Ken Diener, a long time docent of the Garden and an architect by profession. During the review of future plans for the Garden, a representative with the Suzhou Design Institute made a cryptic comment to Ken: “Yes, it is good to have a mountain out your doorway.” What was meant by such an expression? Was this just a casual commentary or was this a disguised perception, which called out for disclosure? While we understand that architecture serves as a part of the skeletal framework for a Chinese scholar’s garden, did this person have other, unique, cultural ideas about the purpose of architecture? What is the inspiration for such a summary statement? Please join us as we explore answers to these interesting questions.
Understanding and Appreciating Chinese Music
Dr. Jerry Lin
June 2, 2007
Music has played a prominent role in China and is acknowledged in its early written history in the Book of Etiquette and the Book of Rites. The practice and knowledge of music were, and are still, considered attributes of a gentleman. Music played an esteemed role in court rituals and religious ceremonies. Confucius considered music an essential ingredient in the order of the state. A basic Taoist concept compares the individual human essence with a musical tone. Garden retreats of the literati often served as venues for enjoying music. The myriad instruments of China, their unique sounds, as well as music, traditional and modern, will be highlighted.
All of Nature’s Splendors: Some Thoughts on Chinese Gardens, Past and Present
Kevin Greenwood, Professor, Willamette University
March 3, 2007
This lecture will cover the key traditional ideals of a Chinese garden, which are reflective of cosmological concepts and literati ideals. In addition, it will touch upon how the Qing Imperial gardens broadened these themes into a more overtly political realm. The presentation will conclude with some thoughts on modern Chinese gardens in North America (e.g. Lansuyuan) and further interpretations of how they add to China’s centuries’ old garden traditions.
Heritage of the Chinese Rank Badge
November 5, 2005
For thirteen centuries, a system of rigorous state examinations along with the resultant civil and military ranks enabled the Chinese empire to be administered with the highest standards of intelligence, ability, and learning, notwithstanding the political forces of the times. Learn about the traditions of Chinese rank during the Ming/Qing dynasties, which were identified by finely woven or embroidered silk badges that were sewn onto the front and back of the surcoats of officials. At the same time, the customs and ritual symbols, styles and techniques of these “mandarin squares,” along with the ideals of the Chinese universe as represented on them, will be discussed.
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