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Chinese People’s Life in the Time of Late Ming Dynasty
   
Painting, sacral sculpture, jade objects, porcelain – the top class works from the Capital Museum of China will be presented in Poland for the first time. The exhibition will feature over 100 works, connected with different aspects of the life of people in China in late Ming dynasty, which is the Chinese Renaissance.
The 16th century with its great geographical discoveries brought Europe economic growth and commercial revival. It’s the time when art and science were in their fullest bloom. Meanwhile, in the eastern parts of Asia, we have the time of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). This epoch was also a period of great progress in economy and culture, which developed in a different way than in Europe. In China, the socio-ideological trends did not encourage the market economy and industrial revolution. The country took a different road and made its own contribution to the socio-cultural transformation.
The exhibition is divided into three parts and approaches the issues connected with culture, religions and economy. In the ancient Chinese society the most important role was that of the officials, who influenced politics, shaped the culture, created fashion and aesthetic standards. The works displayed in the first part of the exhibition represent an extraordinary life of a Chinese scholar-official. The presentation features painting (vertical and horizontal scrolls and paintings on fans), the most valued field in art among the educated people. Visitors will also see the accessories from a scholar’s office, such as cups, mats for brushes, bars of ink, stamps, decorative objects made of jade. They were all not only useful equipment, but also true works of art. Having a closer look at a jade bowl for washing out brushes in the shape of lotus leaves and a zither guqin is certainly well-worth the effort.
The second part of the exhibition is dedicated to beliefs. Buddhism played a vital role in the history of China, but there were also other philosophical-religious systems simultaneously functioning in the society – Confucianism and Taoism. These themes are illustrated by means of examples sculpture and painting depicting the key figures of the Buddhist pantheon and Chinese Taoist mythology. Among the precious examples of sculpture, one of the most significant is a small figure of Shakyamuni Buddha made of gold-plated bronze, with a subtle and serene facial expression, whereas among the paintings one can distinguish a 4-meter scroll depicting a group of arhats – Buddha’s disciples.
The last part of the exhibition features objects acquired by the richest Chinese people and the means of payment they used. The display includes ancient coins and luxurious, precious objects one could buy with them: porcelain, textiles, jade decorative objects. Visitors can admire earrings and hairpins made of jade – the most valued stone in China - and examples of porcelain typical for Ming dynasty. A ceramic ice container, serving as a fridge or air conditioner, makes an interesting addition to this presentation.
The Capital Museum of China was founded in 1981 and is one of the biggest museum institutions in Beijing. The collection features over 200 thousand works of the ancient Chinese art, including ceramics, ancient bronze, calligraphy, painting, sculpture and jade objects.