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Study Proposal(2)--Critical thoughts about traditional handicraft

I want to research traditional handicraft from an objective view. Now people in China give white and blue porcelain too much praise and even give the corrupt things in traditional culture too much praise. I appreciate traditional culture, but I prefer to have a critical thinking about it. I will keep thinking of the way the traditional culture will be inherited and innovated. I will keep thinking how to bring traditional culture into contemporary design and how the handicraft will develop when facing the mechanized production.


When I was once visiting the ancient ceramics relics in Jingdezhen porcelain museum, I saw a blue and white porcelain bottle with the overelaborated decoration, but it’s impossible for me to appreciate over-layered complicated patterns on the porcelain bottle. The beauty reflected by it was not the elegant calm of appropriate beauty, but as if to show off itself through the "delicate" decoration, giving out a temperament like a makeup female, but there were a lot of people standing around the porcelain to take photographs. So, I have been thinking about what is beautiful in college, and what kind of objects should I design to be in line with people's aesthetics.

Handicrafts from Qing Dynasty

The highest level of creation should be the harmony and uniform between "utility" and "beauty", that is to say, the object should appropriately meet both utility and beauty. But some of porcelain artifacts of the Qing Dynasty have overshadowed the utility functions of them, and some of them are made of complicated and over-layered patterns at the huge expense, but they were so favored by the monarch that they were popular at that time. (European Rococo style was formed also largely because of this psychology). Such kind of blind show off skill by showing the overelaborated pattern decoration has been still in use today. I am also amazed by those extravagant Qing Dynasty artifacts and creations techniques, but actually such kind of decoration style is not in line with our mainstream aesthetic taste today. I am thinking whether such kind of the "delicate" decoration results in fatigued aesthetics? Is this really beautiful? How to balance the value of technique in ceramic art?It is true that we should pursue the spirit of the craftsman. But too much emphasis on technique skills may have a bad influence on aesthetics of objects.


In our life, we often have too much decoration of ourselves just for the purpose of beauty, this is conversely nothing more but shackles and bondage. In my portfolio, I try to design a set of jewelry to show the beauty of such frills. The bottle mouth of the traditional artifacts is used for jewelry style, and the jewelry decoration is typical patterns of blue and white porcelain of the Qing Dynasty. Such jewelry in the neck looks as if wearing a plaster with overelaborated patterns to show that too much decoration is nothing more but the bondage of beauty. I will use other ways to develop this topic in my postgraduate study.


Survey on Qing Dynasty Porcelain Artifacts with Too Overelaborated Decoration

After Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, the ruling group was in corruption, and the social productivity was suffered from unprecedented destruction, a variety of manual skills filled with the ethnic tradition were waned under the yoke of corrupt social system. It’s also the case for Ceramic crafts and skills, only Jingdezhen could maintain a certain production capacity, but the content was vulgar, and the artistic level decreased significantly. Other kilns were even devastated.

In the Song Dynasty, the exquisite sense of the Song porcelain was endogenous; however in the Qing Dynasty, people began to develop the crafts passed down by ancestors, they used the superb skills to cater to monarch's taste, thus the decoration tended to be overelaborated, and it lost the real beauty. Ceramic is the material that can be use casually and freely, it can create surprising shapes and colors. However, the way of technique of decoration can be considered as repetition like a machine without any feeling of handicrafts and expression of natural emotion.

#Jingdezhen #ceramics #porcelain #tradition #handicraft #traditionalculture #aesthetics #Qingdynasty

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