Blogs

Interesting findings & case studies on commonly misunderstood and mystery images

Hongwu porcelain with underglaze blue and underglaze red decoration has been the treasure from the beginning of Ming Dynasty which was established by Emperor Taizu Zhu Yuanzhang.

Have you ever wondered why the image of the prunus has been a popular motif in Chinese decorative art? Why do Chinese literati love to write poems about plum blossoms and paint them in their art works? Dr Yibin Ni will explain to you the symbolic meanings of the prunus and how scholar-artists started to relate themselves to the prunus from the Song dynasty onward.

2022 is the year of Tiger according to Chinese lunar calendar. Dr Yibin Ni has conducted a research overview of the pictorial representation of the tiger in the background of Chinese culture and history, from the origin of its motif in relics to various artistic forms in traditional decorative arts over the past three thousand years.

‘福 fu’, a Chinese character bearing an auspicious meaning of ‘good fortune’, has been used often in Chinese decorative arts. Dr Yibin Ni will tell you some interesting stories related to this character and how the intended meaning is represented in various art forms.

Chinese people deeply respect the elderly and traditionally consider a long existence to be one of the most important blessings in a person’s life. Here are many examples of how artists have combined a variety of longevity symbols to reinforce the potency of this concept.

In Chinese culture, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is related to the legendary fairy Chang E, the Moon Goddess. We often see a hare, her loyal companion, and an osmanthus tree in the picture with her against a background of the Moon Palace. However, why does Chang E often hold an osmanthus sprig, and what does she have to do with scholars attending civil-service examinations? Let’s invite Dr Yibin Ni to explain to you with his interesting literary research findings.

On the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar Chinese year, young men and women will celebrate their traditional ‘Valentine’s Day’, Qixi Festival (七夕节). The custom can be traced back to an ancient story.

On Duanwu Festival, Chinese people have a variety of practices, such as drinking rice wine sprayed with realgar powder and hanging images of the Heavenly Master on the lintel. Where did this tradition come from and how were these practices depicted on various artefacts? Here are Dr Yibin Ni’s explanations.

The following article is a discussion of the substitution of a mythical beast for a horse as Grand Duke Jiang’s mount on three classic porcelain vases adorned with the same story scene of ‘Bo Yi and Shu Qi Trying to Stop the Mighty Zhou Army’. It focuses on the origin and evolution of the two disparate but homophonic expressions ‘Sibuxiang’ in late imperial China and clarifies the terminological confusion in the contemporary world.

Dr Yibin Ni has discussed the differences of symbolic meanings of lily between Western and Chinese cultures in his unique research, bringing new insight into pictorial art.