Originating approximately in the 15th century, a menagerie of artforms collectively known as Regong Art, is venerated as the jewel in the crown of this culture laden land.
Regong Art comprises paintings (murals and Thangka), barbola embroidery as well as clay, wood, brick and Yak butter sculptures. As a glamorous flower born from the soil of Tibetan Buddhism, it reflects various art genres and myriad regional civilizations. It has been crowned as UNESCO Intangible Heritage, a fitting honor for this incredible cultural gem.
Regong Art emerged approximately in the 10th century in Rongren County, Qinghai. Flourished during the mid-17th century, it reached pinnacle in the 19th century. Primitive and unrefined, early Regong Art demonstrates typical Indian and Nepalese flavors. As a cultural crossroads in western China, Tongren witnessed its artisans embraced the essential parts of various art, both the past and the present as well as those in home and abroad. For instance, pupular techniques featuring traditonal Tibetan painting and the palatial murals in Dunhuang, were incorported into Regong Art later. In the 17th century, the aesthestic beauty of Regong Art was valued greatly. Masterpieces of this era are both graceful and impressive. Art works hailing from the 19th century, tend to be more respledent, exquisite and magnificent, thanks to consummate skills and the lavish use of gold.
Tongren County(同仁县): Cradle of Regong Art
Perched on the first bend of Yellow River, southeastern Qinghai, Tongren County, which literally means “golden valley”, is synonymous with Regong Art. Since the 15th century, it has become a spiritual anchor and evolved into a cradle of artists. Its population, which is mainly made up of theTibetan and Tujia ethnicity, are obsessed with Regong Art. All villagers and monks there are unexceptionally accomplished artisans mastering in at least one of the time-honored artforms.
Recent years see a skyrocketing demand for their exquisite paintings and sculptures inside and outside China, such as America and neighboring countries, which in return resulting in an new wave of artistic renaissance and substantial profits, which are unexpected and unprecedented.
Thangka: a Portable Monastery of the Tibetans
“Thang” means “infinite space”, “ka” means “the magic”. Combined, Thangka means “creating one to one million Buddha images on a piece of canvas.”
Thangka was foreign to China during the 7th century, but once it landed on this deeply religious land, it developed at mushrooming speed, came into full blossom and went on to perfection durng the Ming and Qing Dynasties. With sizes varying from a thumb-sized miniature to a colossal covering the whole slope of a mountain, Thangka painting is universally recognized as a “Portable Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism.”
As vivid visual representations of the doctrines, deities and Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism, portrayals to Tibetan culture, philosophy, custom and foklore, as well as testaments to the skill and devotion of Tibetan artisans, these stunning art pieces are used for various purposes. To Lamas’ delight, Thangka, the cartoon version of Tibetan Buddism doctrine, can help their disciplines apprehend the profound theories, get aquainted with their countless deities as well as memorize key historical events, hence they are applauded warmly. To those Nomadic Tibetans, Thangka serves as their walking monastery, shrine and the most auspiciuos item. With the help of Thangka, they can pray anywhere and anytime to their gods.
From its origin shrounded in mystery to its global footprints , from its varients, brushwork techniques to its profound culture, you can write a book out of it.
Few people realize that Thangka is the frozen memory of one facet of Tibetan Buddhism. For though they come in diversified forms and split into countless genres, all of them, unexceptionally, obey a set of code or rule, which specifies everything, such as layout, the position of each god, the color of their clothes and proportion. Thanks to these codes, the consistence and presevance of this dazzling art form, are ensured.
|Thangka: a Portable Monastery of the Tibetans|
Barbola is the Tibetan expression of embroidery, which contrasts sharply with other varients distributed throughout China. Distinguishing itself from the unique materials, making process and themes, it forms an integral part of Regong Art and Tibetan culture. You can say a barbola is a colored embossment made of silk and satins.
Not surprisingly, it embraces the eternal theme: Tibetan Buddhism and depicts various gods and celestrail beings, whose significance are differentitated by size and shade of color. In Tongren County, the majority barbola belongs to “Jiandui(剪堆)”, a special technique unique to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Maybe winter in this platueu is too demanding for a time-consuming work like needlework, this traditioned is simplied into a cut-and-paste pastime. Glossy silk and rainbow-hued satins are cut into desired motifs such as figuries, Buddhas, animals, birds, flowers and daily scenes before being pasted onto the pre-cut paper models. To bring out three-dimensional effect, they are stacked artistically according to the intensity of color.
|Tibetan embroidery: barbola(堆绣)|
Tibet has never been a shrine of sulpture art. Though pale in comparison by its counterparts in Xidi and Hongcun Village in Anhui province, an around 4-hour drive away from Shanghai,
Tibetan sect of sculpture does cry for your appreciation for good reason and sparkles as an important part of Regong Art.
Brick carving, woodcarving, clay scultpure and stone sculpture constitude Tibetan sect of scultpure, with clay sculpture reigns as the best-developed and most popular sight.
Clay sculptures prospered in the middle 17th century and reached its heyday during the 19th century. Featuring minuate details, flowing and expressive lines, constrasting colors co-exsiting harmoniously, clay statues of this period do justice to the glamour of this artform. One peculiar thing you cannot find elsewhere is its highly symbolic images, both for secular and divine world.
Woodcarving is usded to decorate door lintels and chapiters of a house and wooden josses. Brick carving, ornated with motifs including dragons, phoenixes, lions and flowers, is widely applied in the ridges, walls and eaves of Buddhism monasteires.
|Yak Butter Sculpture|
|In Kumbum Monastery(塔尔寺), Qinghai, you can see the most beautiful Yak Butter Sculpture in China|
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