The new landmark of Jiangnan culture made a wonderful debut
Walking in the West Museum of Suzhou Museum, you can see the mottled light and shadow cast by the sun on the gray wall everywhere. The long glass corridor connects 10 box-shaped buildings, echoing the parallel pattern of water and land in the ancient city of Suzhou, integrating the classical and elegant artistic conception with the modern design sense.
At the end of September, the West Museum of Suzhou Museum, located at the foot of the Lion Mountain in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, was put into trial operation. Its exhibition area is four times that of this museum, including the Suzhou History Exhibition Hall, the Suzhou Crafts Museum, the International Cooperation Museum, the Calligraphy and Painting Hall, the Suzhou Life Museum and the Exploration and Experience Museum, and more than 2000 pieces (sets) of cultural relics were displayed, striving to create a new cultural landmark with both Jiangnan temperament and international vision.
On the Long History of Wu
“There is paradise on the top and Suzhou and Hangzhou on the bottom”. “When you come to Suzhou, people will sleep on the river”. This is the first impression of many people on Suzhou. However, Suzhou is not only gentle and beautiful. The “Pure Jiangnan” general history display on the first floor of the Suboxi Pavilion shows a richer and more comprehensive urban character. The muddy black pottery in the hands of the ancestors of Liangzhu, the flavor of the bass in the mouth of the celebrities of the Wei and Jin Dynasties, the sound of the canal oars in the ears of the people of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and the clear light of the landscape in the paintings of the Wumen School of Painting… The exhibits link the cultural context of Suzhou for thousands of years from the three aspects of “city, history, and people”.
Li Jun, curator of the Suzhou History Exhibition, said that there are two criteria for selecting cultural relics, one is to reflect major historical events, and the other is that the cultural relics themselves have high artistic value. In the unit of “Wu Gou Chonghui”, a bronze sword flashed with cold light. The body and frame of the sword were gilded with gold, and the head of the sword was left with traces inlaid with jade. This sword is the longest inscription among the weapons of the pre-Qin period seen so far. The 75 characters on the body of the sword relate to the three kings of Wu, including Shoumeng, Yuji, Yuyu, and the three wars between Wu, Yue and Chu. Behind the ancient weapons, the images of swords and swords on the multimedia device and the figures made of metal wire remind people of the stories of Wu assassins such as “Zhuanzhuangwang Liao”, “To leave the thorn and celebrate the taboo”, reflecting the early martial tradition of the Wu people.
A thousand years later, Fan Zhongyan founded the earliest and largest local government school in Suzhou in the Song Dynasty, which laid the foundation for the prosperity of Suzhou’s cultural movement. In the unit of “The Beginning of Fuxue”, a jade turtle button seal was displayed, with a white printing face, and four characters of “Fan Zhongyan’s seal” were chiseled in the seal body. The font was upright, comfortable, and simple. Under the plum window next to it, there is a multicolored brocade scroll, which is the “letter of appointment” of Fan Chunren, the second son of Fan Zhongyan, appointed by Song Zhezong in the third year of Yuanyou (1088). This gao volume provides a model for the study of the official gao system of the Northern Song Dynasty, and is also a witness of the numerous talents of the Fan family.
The exhibition hall displays the important archaeological discoveries in Suzhou for decades, such as Tianbaodun Han Tomb, Black Pine Forest Tomb of the Three Kingdoms, Zhangjiagang Huangsipu Site, Taicang Fancunjing Site, etc. Since 1997, many tombs of the Three Kingdoms have been excavated in the Black Pine Forest area of Huqiu, which is likely to be the tomb of the Sunwu royal family. The stone pedestal inserts, stone tables, dynamically displayed line-cut stone screens, and the stone lintels and stone windows unearthed from Sun Jiansun Ce’s tomb in Heisonglin Tomb have jointly restored a living space of the Eastern Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms Period. The Fancunjing site in Taicang, discovered in 2016, unearthed 150 tons of Longquan kiln porcelain in the middle and late Yuan Dynasty, with an amazing number, filling the gap of large sites in the Yuan Dynasty in southern Jiangsu. In the unit of “New Certificate of Maritime Silk”, the blue-glazed eight-diagram lian lian lian lian pair-type furnace, white-glazed brown high-foot cup and other export porcelains are arranged in layers, which proves that Suzhou Taicang Port was an important node of the Maritime Silk Road.
In the “Painting and Calligraphy Suzhou – Collection of Painting and Calligraphy Special Exhibition of the Past Dynasties”, the treasure of the Su Bo Town Museum, “The Painting of Seven Gentlemen”, met with the audience again after several years. On the long scroll, seven pictures of black bamboo drawn by six famous Yuan Dynasty masters, Zhao Tianyu, Ke Jiusi, Zhao Yuan, Gu An, Zhang Shen and Wu Zhen, are displayed one by one. They are either luxuriant or vigorous, which can be called a brief history of black bamboo in the Yuan Dynasty. “The Painting of Seven Gentlemen” is an old collection of the Gu family’s cloud tower in Suzhou. According to the textual research made by the Gu family for it, this work has been circulating in order since the Qing Dynasty, and it is the epitome of the continuous culture of Jiangnan.
Presents exquisite Suzhou craftsmanship
Walk into the “Memory of Suzhou by Technology” exhibition hall on the second floor. Through the hollowed out partition in the shape of the Taihu Lake Lake stone, a white jade elephant from the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty came into sight. This is a famous item in the jade collection of the Su Bo Museum. Using various techniques, such as relief, line carving, three-dimensional round carving, etc., a large piece of Hotan Jade seed is carved into a fat elephant with a long nose. A boy climbed on the elephant, holding a branch in his left hand and chrysanthemum in his right hand. “Dramatic image” is homophonic to “auspicious”, and has the beautiful meaning of “prosperity and auspiciousness, peace and image”.
According to “Heavenly Craft”, “Although good jade gathers in the capital, its craftsmanship pushes Su County”, which shows that Suzhou jade making technology is at the forefront of the times, and the popular black bone clay gold fan in the Ming Dynasty is also best made in Suzhou. The sky blue exhibition wall opens a moon cave door, inside which a dazzling folding fan of the Ming Dynasty unfolds. It was unearthed in the female coffin of Wang Xijue and his wife’s joint burial tomb. The bamboo bone is delicate, painted with black paint and rain gold, and the fan is black. It is decorated with gold diamonds and triangular patterns of different sizes, and it is still shining after hundreds of years.
Suzhou manufactures “all kinds of gold, silver, colored glaze and beautiful embroidery are extremely exquisite”, and “Su Zuo” has become synonymous with high-quality handicrafts. The Suzuo Craft Museum is divided into three parts: in the “exquisite carving” unit, Lu Zigang’s jade carving, Zhu Sansong’s bamboo carving, Gu Erniang’s Duan inkstone, etc., which shows the emergence of various categories of jade, bamboo and wood corner carving; In the “Zhuo Qi Li” unit, it is as simple as Ming-style furniture, as gorgeous as Taohuawu New Year pictures, and as elegant as rosewood inlaid with gold wire birdcage, reflecting the pursuit of Suzhou people for poetic life; In the “Embroidery Huacai” unit, Suzhou embroidery clothing, tapestry scroll and Song brocade patterns show the beauty and delicacy of Jiangnan embroidery.
The dazzling exhibits bring visual enjoyment. The tinkling rings of gold and silver jewelry and the melodious strings of silk and bamboo strings make the audience in the exhibition hall feel like they are in the bustling ancient streets.
“We specially selected some folk cultural relics for display. Although they are not of high level, they can vividly reflect the customs and living conditions of Jiangnan region,” said Xu Jie, the curator. A set of modern stringed musical instruments, such as zither, pipa, gong and drum, are made of purple jade, jasper, lotus stone and other materials. This set of ornaments contrasts with the real instruments such as Huqiu mahogany erhu and sanxian, showing the advanced manufacturing technology of national musical instruments in Suzhou.
The development of Suzhou musical instrument production technology is closely related to the prevalence of opera in the Ming and Qing dynasties. At that time, large families often invited “Tang Ming”, a small oratorio, to their homes in the event of marriage and funeral, to set up a stage temporarily to perform Kunqu Opera. The dismantled objects of the stage were packed in a box for easy carrying, so it was called “Tang Ming Dan”. In the exhibition hall, there is a red wood carving made by folk artists during the Republic of China, “Hall Name Lantern”, which is shaped like a double-eaved building, and is equipped with various colored glass lanterns. It combines tenon and tenon, carving, hairpin and other techniques. Nowadays, this kind of “Tang Mingdan” is rare in the world, and it is even more rare to make such exquisite products.
For thousands of years, Suzhou crafts have been passed down from generation to generation and become a valuable intangible cultural heritage. In addition to displaying ancient art treasures since the Song and Yuan dynasties, Suzuo Art Museum also presents many contemporary art masterpieces, such as the sapphire Gu “Qi” made by Jiang Xi, a master of Chinese arts and crafts, and the “Humble Administrator’s Garden” palace fan designed by Xing Weizhong, which makes people feel the inheritance of ingenuity and the innovation of skills.
Give full play to the function of teaching and entertainment
During the National Day holiday, the exploration and experience hall of the Subosi Museum became a paradise for children. A “floating Suzhou City” is built in the museum. The twin towers, Wumen Bridge and Suzhou Weaving Mansion are connected by slides. Children can shuttle freely here, learn Suzhou dialect, listen to Suzhou nursery rhymes, play mortise and tenon assembly, and enjoy garden sketches.
The exploration and experience hall is located on the ground floor, with an area of 4500 square meters. It is the exclusive space for children aged 3-12. At the simulated archaeological site in the sand, the children turned into “little archaeologists” and dug out 3D printed “cultural relics” by themselves; In front of the “Curious Cabinet”, you can see animal fossils, specimens and models full of walls, and feel the collision of different disciplines and civilizations. The Suboxi Museum highlights the educational function of the museum, and sows the seeds of learning history and appreciating art in children’s hearts through interactive games.
In the International Cooperation Pavilion on the second floor, the replica of the dome of the Pantheon and the Roman columns bring the audience back to the Western classical era. As a special exhibition for the opening of the museum, “Rome: City and Empire” exhibition presented 267 ancient Roman cultural relics including large-scale sculptures, handicrafts, paintings, gold and silver ornaments. This is the first time that the British Museum’s collection of ancient Rome has been intensively displayed in Asia. Since then, the two museums will launch a series of exhibitions around the theme of “world civilization”.
“Standing in the south of the Yangtze River and viewing the world” is a new concept of Suzhou Museum. Xie Xiaoting, secretary of the General Party Branch and executive deputy curator of the Suzhou Museum, said that the West Museum is positioned in the wrong direction with the museum. “The museum is located in the historical and cultural block of Gusu District, focusing on the display of Jiangnan culture, while the West Museum is located in the High-tech Zone, and has a larger space to plan original exhibitions and introduce exhibitions from well-known museums at home and abroad, striving to become an experience center of world culture and Chinese civilization.”
In the museum area of King Su Bozhong’s Mansion, there is a simple and vigorous wisteria, which was planted by Wen Zhengming, the leader of the Wumen painting circle more than 400 years ago. In 2006, architect I.M. Pei grafted “Vine” with wisteria selected by himself to build a green shade for Su Bo Tea House. Now, a specially treated vine has been moved into the exhibition hall of the Suboxi Hall, and together with the geometric roof, it forms a landscape with a strong sense of design, which is in a continuous line and has a new sense of antiquity. With the help of the new venue platform, Suzhou Museum will continue to provide better public cultural services for the audience based on its own characteristics.