Visit "Phoenix Reborn: Chu Jades Excavated from Hubei" Exhibit
Almost everyone knows a little something about the Kingdom of Chu although they may not realize it. It is, after all, from the Chu that we get the very famous poem Li Sao or “Encountering Sorrow" /
離騷 writing by one of China’s most famous poets Qu Yuan / 屈原. You’ll know about him because it was his legendary suicide that is memorialized in the Dragon Boat Festival that we celebrate every year. For so beloved was Qu Yuan that the local villagers near his watery grave would throw leaf raped rice into the water to feed his hungry soul.
The Kingdom of Chu was an important creator of culture in Ancient China. It was revered by the Tang Dynasty for their traditional Arts and became part of the aesthetic fabric of Chinese Culture, especially in the South. A new exhibit at the Art Museum at the Chinese University of Hong Kong titled Phoenix Reborn: Chu Jades Excavated from Hubei will help us to make an important connection between the Kingdom of Chu and our Modern Time. Hong Kong Sacred Spaces will walk through the exhibit hall listening to an English language tour covering 158 pieces of jade from some of the newest and most important archeological sites in China. The exhibit, co-curated by the Hubei Provincial Museum, is a wonderful opportunity for us to immerse ourselves in ancient Chinese culture in the lead up to the Spring Festival 歲首.
From the website...
The Kingdom of Chu was one of the feudal states of early Western Zhou Dynasty. With concerted endeavour of successive Chu rulers, the state had undergone significant expansion and became one of the strongest powers in the Spring and Autumn Period as well as the Warring States Period. At its peak, the territory of the Kingdom covered the vast land of southern China, amounting to half of the entire country. A distinct culture developed in that region contrasted sharply with that of the Central Plain and coastal regions during the pre-Qin times. More importantly, Chu culture also persisted in the Han Dynasty, influencing China for over eight hundred years.
The exhibition explores the impact of Chu culture through jade carving, featuring 158 pieces of jade excavated in Hubei Province from tombs dated from the Zhou Dynasties to mid and late Warring States. These tombs were located in the ancient Kingdom of Zeng (Guojiamiao and Zeng Houyi) and the Kingdom of Chu (Shanwan, Yaojiagang, Caojiagang and Jiuliandun) respectively. Focusing mainly on the mid to late Warring States jades from Jiuliandun, the show explores the stylistic features of Chu jades as well as their development history. It also illuminates the relationship between Chu jades and the Central Plain jades founded in the Kingdom of Zeng. For the first time, these exhibits will be organized and displayed according to their unearthed locations, which would help shedding light on the burial practice and function of burial jades of Chu culture.
Jiuliandun is by far the largest source of jades excavated from Chu tombs. Also valuable is the tomb of Guojiamiao, which has been awarded the Top Ten Archaeological Finds in China for two times in 2015 and 2016. All objects of this exhibition had never been exhibited outside mainland China before.
Image from the Art Museum at CUHK