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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Winchester: The Man who saved a Cathedral with a diving suit


William Walker was a professional diver  and he worked for months six hours a day,
in complete darkness and in the water to save Winchester Cathedral. 


Is Winchester an unusual town?

Well, it is certainly not so common for a town to host King Arthur's Round Table (click here to read our last week post about King Arthur's Round Table), but Winchester is not just King Arthur's Round Table and it is not unusual just for this reason.

Probably you have heard about Winchester Cathedral.

Winchester Cathedral is such an imposing building that you should certainly not miss to visit if you are visiting the South of England or you are looking for a short trip from London.

Winchester Cathedral is surrounded by a wonderful green and wonderful naves with high columns and impressive ceilings will leave you breathless for their beauty.

The high columns and impressive ceilings are reminiscent of the ones of Exeter Cathedral (click here to compare), but Winchester Cathedras has one feature that is certainly unique.

Most of the people would guess that I am talking about the tomb of Jane Austen, the famous writer of Jane Eyre and  Northanger Abbey, but actually not (sorry Jane. I am going to write about you in another post).

What I am talking about is just a common man who act with his heart and his soul, without thinking too much at the great task he was undertaking, and became a national hero.

His name is William Walker and he saved Winchester Cathedral from certain destruction.

Probably the high columns and impressive ceilings are not too different from the ones of Exeter Cathedral.


The fact is that Winchester Cathedral at the end of the Nineteen Century was nearly collapsing under the ground because of the subsidence.

Winchester lies in a valley of the River Itchen, and the Cathedral sits on peaty soil with a high underlying water table and Winchester Cathedral was soon going to collapse.

If you walk at the back of Winchester Cathedral you can still see today the walls of the Cathedral leaning slight on one side sank on the soft ground as an effect of the subsidence.

William Walker was a professional diver. He worked for months six hours a day, in complete darkness and in the water, because the sediment suspended in the water was impenetrable to light, to reinforce with concrete the basement of Winchester Cathedral and save it from collapsing.

So today when you enter into the Cathedral you should first thing walk at the end of the building where the absides is at the back of the amazingly decorated altar.

One more picture of Winchester Cathedral.


At the end of Winchester Cathedral, William Walker the saviour of Winchester Cathedral is there represented in a tiny bronze statue, nearly invisible to the public.

You are going to notice the little statue of William Walker the saviour of Winchester Cathedral only if you already know his story and you are looking for this statue.

I think William Walker the saviour of Winchester Cathedral would love to know that is represented inside the religious building in such a simple and unfussy way.

But after you have thanked William Walker the saviour of Winchester Cathedral for his incredible act of heroism you should take time to visit the rest of Winchester Cathedral.

Winchester Cathedral has been built in different stages and in different times so that what you can see today is a mix of styles and ages.

Winchester Cathedral was founded in 642. It became part of a monastic settlement in 971.

In 1079, Bishop Walkelin began work on a completely new cathedral. The building was consecrated in 1093.

Following the accession of Godfrey de Lucy in 1189 a retrochoir was added in the Early English style.

Jane Austen Tombstone.
The Norman choir screen, having fallen into a state of decay, was replaced in 1637–40 by a
new one, designed by Inigo Jones.

Mainly the Cathedral as we are able to see today is a mix of styles stretching along more than six hundreds years, Something absolutely incredible!

What amazes me more is the ceiling of Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.

Winchester Cathedral ceiling is beautiful and so reminiscent of the ceiling of Exeter Cathedral i just visited few weeks ago read about Exeter Cathedral - post 1 and Exeter Cathedral - post 2.

The other thing that remained in my mind visiting Winchester Cathedral is Jane Austen's tomb.

The famous English writer is buried here in Winchester Cathedral.

I notice Jane Austen's tombstone in the pavement of Winchester Cathedral (left nave) when I was literally with my feet on her mortal remains.

As you can see in the phone Jane Austen tombstone is such a simple, common, anonymous tombstone that it is extremely easy to miss it.


The house of Jane Austen in Winchester Cathedral

I read Jane Austen's house in Winchester survived and I set off to see it.

It should be certainly take in account that when Jane Austen lived in this house in Winchester she was already ill and bear the end of her life, but still it is just a common house. Only a little plaque near the door to remember the famous English writer.

After having visited Bath I can confirm my first impression: it is definitely Bath the city of Jane Austen.

As I wrote (click here to read the full post about Jane Austen in BathBath is not just a thermal town, despite the fact that it is famous for its spa. 

It is not only the city of Jane Austen, the worldwide 

famous novelist of Pride and Prejudice and Northanger 
Abbey.


Winchester Cathedral as seen from the beautiful hill surrounding the English town.


There is much more to say about Bath.


Bath is such a wonderful town to visit in England.


Nourished by natural hot springs, Bath is a 

romantic destination popular with the 

fashionable society since the eighteen

century(...click here to continue).

Do you want to visit another majestic Cathedral in England?

Read about Salisbury Cathedral: The Cathedral of light




Do you want to read more about England?

Browse on my page Visit England for many more destinations



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Friday, March 21, 2014

Does King Arthur's Round Table exists? Where is it?



King Arthur's Round Table exists and you can visit it!

It is amazing in two ways.

First it is amazing for how it looks.

It is a masterpiece of carpentry. It is wonderfully built in wood and wonderfully decorated in black, white and green, the names of the Knight of the Round Table inscribed all around.

Second and most important King Arthur's Round Table is amazing because doesn't date back to King Arthur times, but still it is 800 years old and it is extremely impressive.

Why someone could have possibly wanted to make a huge Round Table in the 1300? And why to make it so beautiful to be certainly magical and (say the true) would you be able to imagine a round table more real than this one in the photo?

This is what King Alfred (also known with the name of King Alfred The Great) would have probably thought.

Yes I said King Alfred, not King Arthur.

The thing is on King Arthur's Round Table the king depicted is not King Arthur!

Despite the name written below the picture the King depicted is most certainly King Alfred.

But what am I talking about and who is King Alfred? And most important where is King Arthur's Round Table?

Have you ever heard the name Winchester?

The Winchester I am talking about doesn't have much to do with the famous rifle.

The Winchester I am talking about is a beautiful town in the South of England, an hour South of London and , although sometimes forgot, the town of Winchester is so important in the history of England to rightly deserve to be the town of King Arthur's Round Table.

Winchester was also for a short time the capital of England, during the black death in London.  

Would be not this enough to make of Winchester a wonderful place to visit in South of England?




But let's go back to our point: why someone had painted King Alfred The Great on King Arthur's Round Table in Winchester?

Well, it is quite simple: King Alfred was the king and the only King of Winchester and it was the local hero!

King Alfred ruled Wessex from 871 until his death in 899 and he saved his country!

At the time of his enthronement the Viking had taken control of half of England and were threatening Wessex, the region of Winchester.

King Alfred army won the battle of Edington and saved the country.

Probably you have heard about Winchester Cathedral...
Not only this! But King Arthur, it is said, managed also to convert the Vikings to Christianity!

What more a king could have done in the eyes of the man (anonymous) who built King Arthur's Round Table in Winchester?

Would you believe, the Wintonians (so they are called the citizens of Winchester) are so proud of their king even today that to celebrate the anniversary of his organized a reenactment of the burial procession  and, instead to make another Round Table, they just opened a Facebook page, so know King Alf 8as they call King Alfred in 21st Century style) is on facebook.com like Madonna and Michael Jackson. (you don't believe me? Go and look at 

It is a bit unusual Winchester isn't it?

Well it is even more. Probably you have heard about Winchester Cathedral... but this is another story... Click here to read more about Winchester.


Do you want to travel in England?

Visit our page Visit England for more great destinations.




    




Saturday, March 15, 2014

What to see in Exeter in one day? An itinerary ready for you

Exeter Cathedral is one of the most beautiful Cathedral in the world and its beauty
 is evident in many different aspects.  - read our dedicated post


"Exeter is a wonderful town and not just because of its beautiful Cathedral".


Exeter is wonderful because is not just beautiful and interesting but extremely relaxing.


Exeter offers sunshine and mild weather, thanks to its position in the South of England, Devon few miles away from the English Channel.


So after having visited the Cathedral and the old town of Exeter you can relax along the banks of the Exe River or just head to the nearby seaside town of Topsham.


One day is probably enough to see the best of Exeter, although two days are recommended.




Here an Itinerary ready for you for visiting the best of the beautiful town of Exeter in Devon, England:

1. Start from the Cathedral. Exeter Cathedral is one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in Europe.



Exeter Cathedral is one of the most beautiful Cathedral in the world and its beauty is evident in many different aspects.

The wonderful architecture perfectly expresses the best of the Norman English style.

It is amazing because it is extremely rare to be able to visit a church that had only marginal changes during the centuries and it still express today the Norman English Style of the XIII Century.

But one aspect is particularly amazing: thousands of faces are looking to you from the ceiling and from the vaults, in the chapels and from arches; everywhere faces are looking at you.

Enter in Exeter Cathedral and turn your eyes towards to the ceilings.... Hundreds of faces will look at you!



In Exeter Cathedral you can also admire the longest continuous medieval vaults of the world and certainly the most amazing, particularly if you visit the church in a sunny day when the sunlight would exalt even more the beauty of this ceiling.

Click here to read our post about Exeter Cathedral and read also our post about the thousand faces in the Cathedral, one of the most amazing feature of the cathedral.

2. See the narrowest street of the world.

OK it can be silly to just look to a street that have nothing to be remembered apart the fact that is so narrow, but I think is interesting in a way... it make you think of how all is relative, how everything can acquire interest and importance if well sold... 


Can you guess how the narrowest street of the world is called? 

If you can't guess the name of the narrowest street of the world... I tell you: the narrowest street of the world and certainly of Exeter is Parliament Street... is it not interesting that the most irrelevant and narrow street of the town, and maybe of England (if not of the world) is "dedicated" to the Parliament?

Judging from the smell, locals don't seem to have lot of respect for Parliament Street!

Nothing happen in the narrowest street of the world road, apart apparently being a popular convenient but unconventional toilet at night... and they call it Parliament Street?



Exeter is wonderful because is not just beautiful and interesting but extremely relaxing.


Beautiful architecture in Exeter,

One day is probably enough to see the best of Exeter, although two days are recommended.

3. Visit the Royal Albert Museum of Exeter.

The Royal Albert Museum of Exeter in town is particularly celebrated.

It is a good collection of art, science and history.

I don't think is so impressive as the leaflets of the tourism office describe it, but it is free, it is central and has a very nice cafe where you can eat decent food at decent price in Exeter.


It is perfect for a rainy day or if you want to give your children a bit of distraction.


4. The High Street


If you like shopping the High Street is your place. But not mine as it is just a huge modern shopping mall, built on the ruins of the beautiful palaces bombed during the Second World War.


Walking from the old town to Exeter Quay is like to enter in a different town.


5. Exeter Quay

Walk down towards the river Exe. Apart for discovering the origin of the name Exeter you will love to discover Exeter Quay.

Exeter Quay is beautifully preserved and you can enjoy to visit the little individual shops or just seat under the roof of the old boat station and take a beer at the local pub (the local Jail beer is absolutely recommended if you like ales).

Walking from the old town to Exeter Quay is like to enter in a different town.

Here the atmosphere is much more relax and the Quay enjoy light and sunshine and a very good vibe.

One time this Quay represented probably the main gate to enter Exeter.

Through the canals Exeter is connects to the sea and one time much more boats were coming and going every day from here.

From www.wikipedia.com: 

The Exeter Canal was completed in about 1566, making it one of the oldest artificial waterways in Britain. 

It was cut to bypass weirs that had been built across the River Exe to prevent trade in the city and to force boats to unload at Topsham from where the Earls of Devon were able to exact large tolls to transport goods to Exeter. Originally 3 feet deep and 16 feet wide (0.9 m by 5 m), it ran 1.75 miles (2.82 km) from just below the Countess Weir to the centre of Exeter. 

It was later extended to Topsham, deepened and widened, and was successful until the middle of the 19th century since when its use gradually declined – the last commercial use was in 1972. However it is now widely used for leisure purposes, and the city basin is being included as part of a £24 million redevelopment scheme.


The Exeter Canal was completed in about 1566, making it one of the oldest artificial waterways in Britain. 

6. Walk along the Quay, the river Exe and the canals.

There are plenty walks starting from the Quay.


It is one of the best features of Exeter: how quickly you can escape the town and immediately feel in the countryside. 

Three different walk and cycle path run South towards the mouth of the Exe river and the sea. 

Country pubs offer good food and al fresco dining. 

Beautiful lanscape is waiting you along the road but if you have enough time you should take your time and cycle and walk at leisure from Exeter along the canals (you would probably need a second day in the area to do all this).

7. Visit the pretty town of Topsham.



View of Topsham

Topsham is known as the port of Exeter. Personally I believe Topsham is a bit overrated in the many leaflet of Exeter Tourism Office that make of Topsham an unmissable destination.

Still Topsham is quite pretty with its little harbour and some old shops along the main road... nice for an afternoon... but the day should be a sunny one!

Topsham is just a little village of around five thousands souls but in a sunny day the population doubles with visitors and tourists.

If you will visit Topsham you will probably ask yourself. what are these strange houses so different from the architectural style of nearby Exeter?

These houses that look a bit strange in the surroundings are built in Dutch style. 

Why? In Topsham dating from the time when Topsham was an important cotton port, Dutch merchant lived in these small village in such a strategic position in England. 

Many of Topsham's houses are built using Dutch bricks, which were brought over as ballast from Holland – to where the wool and cotton from South-West England had been exported.


Do you want to know more about Exeter Cathedral?

Read our post dedicated at The famous bosses of Exeter Cathedral.


Do you want to travel in England?

Visit our page Visit England for more great destinations.


Do you want to discover the best in Cathedrals in Britain?

READ also about The Cathedral of Light - Salisbury Cathedral

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Cathedral of Exeter - Why the Cathedral of Exeter is so famous?




Why the Cathedral of Exeter is so famous?

The answer is astonishingly simple: because is amazingly beautiful and unique.

Here a list of things you have absolutely not to miss if you are visiting the Cathedral of Exeter in Devon, England.

1. Start from the green of the church. Do you see the beautiful flowers and the green grass surrounding the church where you probably sat?

Thousand and thousands of bones were buried there, so many that the ground raised so much that wasn't possible to access the cathedral from the main door.







2. Admire the beautiful statues decorating the facade and the strong towers at the side. 

The towers represent the oldest part of the Cathedral.


3. Enter in the Cathedral and lift your head and remain breathless in front of the beautiful geometry of the vaults.

In Exeter Cathedral you can admire the longest continuous medieval vaults of the world and certainly the most amazing, particularly if you visit the church in a sunny day when the sunlight would exalt even more the beauty of this ceiling.

4. Look for the thousand faces hidden everywhere in the church and watching at you from every corner.

We dedicated a post to these faces: read the dedicated post to know more.








5. Keep your head up and admire the minstrels singing.

This is a great masterpiece. The music of the organ is conducted through the air pipes to the minstrels wooden piece at the left side of the nave.



Do you want to know more about Exeter Cathedral?

Read our post dedicated at The famous bosses of Exeter Cathedral.


Do you want to travel in England?

Visit our page Visit England for more great destinations.


Do you want to discover the best in Cathedrals in Britain?

READ also about The Cathedral of Light - Salisbury Cathedral






Monday, March 10, 2014

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing - Where the walls whisper...

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is one of the best kept monuments in the city and
it is certainly the most inspiring.

"If the idea was to express the sublime the Temple of Heaven in Beijing can be rightly said to be the gateway to heaven, reaching high to the sky as nothing else seems to be able to do it so softly in Beijing".

You should absolutely keep for your last day in the Chinese Capital a visit to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is one of the best kept monuments in the city and it is certainly the most inspiring.

Locals are still playing cards and other cardboard games under the long terraced garden surrounding The Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Wonderful centenary cypresses ornate the gardens around The Temple of Heaven in Beijing.


The colours, the style and the architecture of The Temple of Heaven
in Beijing
 immediately remind you of the other monuments of the
Chinese Empire area in the city.
The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is where the Chinese Emperor went to pray, be inspired and make the ritual sacrifices.

Certainly, when you visit The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, it is immediately evident the strong connection between this religious building and the impressive building of the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, the other two most important relics of the Chinese Empire in Beijing.

The colours, the style and the architecture of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing immediately remind you of the other monuments of the Chinese Empire area in the city.

Even the now faded red on the walls of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing are of the exact same shade of the red of the walls of the Imperial Palace.


the temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor. 

The famous echo wall of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is sadly out of service (so says -litterally - the sign on the wall) . 

Chinese authorities are maybe right in preserving the wall of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing that already shows the scars left by the arrive of the daily hordes of tourist from all over the world.


The Connection with the Summer Palace
in Bejing is immeditaely evident, click here to
read more about the Summer Palace.
Still the echo wall is a great attraction in The Temple of Heaven in Beijing that unfortunately you wouldn't be able to experience

If two people stand at the east and west extremes of the circular "Echo Wall "and speak softly, the sound will be propelled around to the person on the opposite side.  This is the reason why the Echo Wall is also known with the name of "Whispering Wall".

The explanation of this wall is not easy to give. it is supposed that it is the shape and the material used for the construction to make this rare effect possible.

If you are so lucky to be able to try the effect of this unique feature of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing you will be amazed.

More amazed you will be if you think that the temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor. 



So left without the chance to experience this magical feature of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing I can only concentrate my attention on the holy mound of the temple.

Again something magic seems to be in store.

The heaven is round and it is surrounded by squared walls in the representation given by The Temple of Heaven in Beijing. the squared walls are the metaphoric symbol of the Earth, represented in the Chinese symbolism as a square in contrast with the perfection of the round shape of the heaven.


The famous echo wall of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is s
adly out of service (so says -litterally - the sign on the wall) . 
The stone pavement covering the round mound of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is a fantastic feature of geometry: nine identical stones surround the circular center of the temple.

More larger circles are around, the second ring of 18, the third of 27 and forth until you get to the last one made of 81 stones (9 multiplied 9).

The good omen of the number nine is highly celebrated for the benefit of the emperor and the empire.

Finally is the temple itself to visit: the gem of The Temple of Heaven in Beijing complex.

Tall, imposing, majestic, The Temple of Heaven in Beijing in its cobalt blue roof and its red walls, surrounded by strong walls and a beautiful port, their design is again reminiscent of the forbidden city.

If the idea was to express the sublime the Temple of Heaven in Beijing can be rightly said to be the gateway to heaven, reaching high to the sky as nothing else seems to be able to do it so softly in Beijing.

---

If you like Imperial China, here some posts you will probably enjoy reading:

The Summer Palace represents a great example of Chinese classical architecture, heavily influenced by the architecture of the now destroyed Nanjing Palace of the Emperor... Read more

The Imperial Ming Tombs are maybe  the most amazing feature of Nanjing. They are called also Ming Xiaolin and it is with this name that they are signalled in the few road signs in English. The Imperial avenues leave you amazed as you really feel you are entering in the burial place of some imaginary emperors of the world.... Read more

The Palace, popularly known as the Forbidden City is certainly the most wonderful building in Beijing. The dark pink walls, the orange pagoda roofs , the emerald green decorations and the white stone sculptures are a wonderful mix producing an effect of majesty I have never experienced visiting any other royal or imperial palace around the world... Read more






Are you planning to travel to China?




Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.



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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Masterpieces of Chinese Art - Visiting the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

The collection of The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing is truly amazing

The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing, also known as The China Museum in Beijing is a wonderful collection of the "official" Chinese Art through history.

Situated in the famous Tien An Men square and recently refurbished, the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing offers a good collection of old and contemporary art.

We selected some masterpieces to publish in this post.
The Christian God, Buddha, Confucius and the symbols of
other religions are gathered in the foyer of The China
Museum in Beijing around the big statue of Karl Marx

Some of the masterpieces of  The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing are published here for their beauty, some others because we thought are somehow
explicative of China today, the "official" way of thinking and Mao propaganda.

Once a plain squared Leninist style building,  The China Museum in Beijing was recently enlarged and modernized at the beginning of this new millennium as the result of an international design competition.

A huge red star from the Russian-style facade of The China Museum in Beijing overlooks Tienanmen Square from the East side of the Square.

A huge open courtyard with large square pillars exalts the vertical lines of the building.

Inside the collection of The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing is truly amazing, although everything is exhibited in the classical cold, academic style and with few captions in English.

At the entrance of The Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing a huge statue seems to celebrate the great celestial powers of the Earth: The Christian God, Buddha, Confucius and the symbols of other religions are gathered in the foyer of The China Museum in Beijing around the big statue of Karl Marx, human surrounded by divinities or more likely in the vision of the artist, Karl Marx, God of the Gods himself.

The painting collection

Chairman Mao's acts are celebrated in the paintings as the most inspired and maybe divine on Earth.


The painting collection of the The China Museum in Beijing is all contained in just one room with red walls. Some paintings are positioned too high on the wall to be properly admired by the visitors.

The paintings have only one subject: Chairman Mao, he and the only one.


Chairman Mao's acts are celebrated in the paintings as the most inspired and maybe divine on Earth.

In the epic pictures of the Chinese Museum of National History
in Beijing Chairman Mao harangues the Chinese people in Tianamen Square.

As  a modern Jesus Chairman Mao is represented talking patiently to the peasants and
leading them to battle by land and by sea.

Chairman Mao is represented marching on the snow capped mountains, leading his Revolutionary army or just freeing innocents in chains: in one word: bringing justice and freedom on Earth. Or so he seems doing according with the artist.


In the epic pictures of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing 
Chairman Mao harangues the Chinese people in Tianamen Square.
The colours and the lines in this pictures of Chairman Mao immediately remind of some honiric Renaissance scenes.

Chairman Mao seems in every painting to be busy to save his Chinese people from perdition.


Not a single caption in English is present in this room. This make me feel entitle to say that is not without a reason that the only painting representing Chairman Mao talking amiably with Mr Stalin is relegated at the end of the gallery, pinned so high that it will be easy to miss the painting than to actually notice it.



Chairman Mao seems in every painting to be busy to save his Chinese people from perdition.


The Collections of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

The classical collections of every good Chinese museum are present here at The China Museum in Beijing.

Calligraphy, jade crafts, wonderful fans are proudly exhibited in The China Museum in Beijing.


Below  we focus our attention on two large collections of the China Museum: The hand fans collections and the worldwide famous china pottery.


We hope you enjoy our selection.




The china pottery collection.



From Wikipedia.com:

Chinese ceramic ware shows a continuous development since the pre-dynastic periods, and is one of the most significant forms of Chinese art. China is richly endowed with the raw materials needed for making ceramics. The first types of ceramics were made during the Palaeolithic era. Chinese Ceramics range from construction materials such as bricks and tiles, to hand-built pottery vessels fired in bonfires or kilns, to the sophisticated Chinese porcelain wares made for the imperial court. Porcelain is so identified with China that it is still called "china" in everyday English usage.
Most later Chinese ceramics, even of the finest quality, were made on an industrial scale, thus few names of individual potters were recorded. Many of the most renowned workshops were owned by or reserved for the Emperor, and large quantities of ceramics were exported as diplomatic gifts or for trade from an early date.

Porcelain is "a collective term comprising all ceramic ware that is white and translucent, no matter what ingredients are used to make it or to what use it is put."[1] The Chinese tradition recognizes two primary categories of ceramics, high-fired [cí 瓷] and low-fired [táo 陶].[2] The oldest Chinese dictionaries define porcelain [cí 瓷] as "fine, compact pottery" [táo 陶].[3] Chinese ceramic wares can also classified as being either northern or southern. Present-day China comprises two separate and geologically different land masses, brought together by the action of continental drift and forming a junction that lies between the Yellow river and the Yangtze river. The contrasting geology of the north and south led to differences in the raw materials available for making ceramics.
The name "china" came from the transliteration of Changnan, which was the old name for the porcelain town of today's Jingdezhen (Jingde Town).

Here a photographic collection of the Ceramics collection at the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.


















Many of the most renowned workshops were owned by or reserved for the Emperor, and large quantities of ceramics were exported as diplomatic gifts or for trade from an early date.



The large collection of hand fans. 


The large collection of hand fans is another wonderful collection of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

The first Chinese fans can be dated to over 3,000 years ago, around the Shang Dynasty.

The first type of fan, known as Shanhan, was tied to a horse-drawn carriage to protect the travellers drom the rays of the sun or the rain falling, acting similarly to an umbrella.

The folding fan is said to be introduced to China from Japan during the late Song Dynasty. 

The most interesting folding fans were made of xuan paper or silk and beautifully painted by the local great artists of the time, the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing hosts a large collection of wonderful masterpieces.

As you can see in the photos the subjects painted on the hand fans exhibited at the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing are quite different, but I think the one of the typical, fairy I can probably say, Chinese landscapes are certainly the most impressive ones.

















The first type of fan, known as Shanhan, was tied to a horse-drawn carriage to protect the travellers drom the rays of the sun or the rain falling, acting similarly to an umbrella.





The basement floor of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

Finally I believe, as many others, that the best section is the diachronic exhibition of ancient China in the basement floor of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.



the miniature terracotta army, an exquisite part of the burial  the emperor.
Typical Chinese food containers in bronze are exhibited in  the basement floor of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing.

Ming style ceramics in blue and white colours will leave you breathless.


Most interesting of all in  the basement floor of the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing is probably the collection of Qing Dinasty burials.



The Jade Burial Suit

A wonderfully made jade coffin is probably the most amazing piece of the collection. It is decorated by dozens of perfectly polished jade blocks. It is unique.


A jade burial suit is a ceremonial suit made of pieces of jade in which royal members in Han Dynasty China were buried.

From Wikipedia.com: "Of the jade suits that have been found, the pieces of jade are mostly square or rectangular in shape, though triangular, trapezoid and rhomboid plaques have also been found. Plaques are often joined by means of wire, threaded through small holes drilled near the corners of each piece. 

The composition of the wire varies, and several suits have been found joined with either gold or silver. Other suits, such as that of King Zhao Mo, were joined using silk thread, or silk ribbon that overlapped the edges of the plaques. In some instances, additional pieces of jade have been found beneath the head covering, including shaped plaques to cover the eyes, and plugs to fit the ears and nose.

According to the Book of Later Han, the type of wire used was dependent on the station of the person buried. The jade burial suits of emperors used gold thread; princes, princesses, dukes, and marquises, silver thread; sons or daughters of those given silver thread, copper thread; and lesser aristocrats, silk thread, with all others being forbidden to be buried in jade burial suits. 

Examination of the known suits, such as the two found in Mancheng, has revealed that these rules were not always followed. Considering the vast size of the country, and the relatively slow means of disseminating information, it is not surprising that the materials and techniques used in a jade burial suit occasionally differed from the official guidelines.

A jade burial suit was extremely expensive to create, and only wealthy aristocrats could afford to be buried in them. Additionally, the process of manufacturing a suit was labor intensive and is estimated to have required several years to complete a single suit".

Not less unique than the Jade Burial Suit is the miniature terracotta army, an exquisite part of the burial  the emperor.


Altogether the feeling you get visiting  the Chinese Museum of National History in Beijing is of the uniqueness that China has to offer, a country where art reached the highest levels of beauty, following the pattern of tradition so attentively that even contemporary art today, twenty and more centuries after is so deeply based in the traditional Chinese culture.



A wonderfully made jade coffin is probably the most amazing piece of the collection. It is decorated by dozens of perfectly polished jade blocks. It is unique.



The wonderful fang of an elephant pictured below and wonderfully carved in the ivory / at Suzhou Museum *click here to read more


If you are interested in Chinese Art read also our posts about Suzhou Museum and Xian Museum to see some amazing pieces of art in China.



Are you planning to travel to China?




Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.

 


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.



 

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