The Exhibition ‘Literati Spirit: Art of Chinese bamboo carving’ at Shanghai Museum

Bamboo carving is a special kind of carving art developed on the bases of long-existed Chinese bamboo culture and carving craftsmanship, and reached its maturity in the middle and late Ming dynasty with the rise of literati’s aesthetic taste in connoisseurship and private collections. Three trends of bamboo carving gradually formed in the period from the Ming dynasty to the mid-20th century: Jiading School’s deep carving, Jinling Schools’s shallow carving, and liuqing (skin reserved) carving. Bearing their own distinctive forms and styles, the three trends influenced and stimulated each other. The participation of literati class further enriched bamboo carving aesthetic and cultural value, endowing it with extraordinary elegant characteristic among all the carving arts.

Shanghai is deeply involved with bamboo caving. Jiading, now in the realm of Shanghai, bore the famous Jiading School, the oldest and largest school of bamboo carving in Chinese history. Its craftsmanship has been listed as National Intangible Cultural Heritage by Chinese government. In the mid-19th century, artists nationwide gathered in Shanghai and formed the Shanghai School. Its bamboo carving marked the last peak in the history of this form of art. Shanghai Museum’s abundant collection of bamboo carving masterpieces makes it one of the most important institutes in the field. In addition to the Shanghai Museum’s own collection, the Palace Museum in Beijing, Tianjin Museum, Nanjing Museum, Ningbo Museum, Guangdong Folk Arts Museum and Jiading Museum in Shanghai will also bring their precious collections to display a complete history of Chinese bamboo carving.



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