Wednesday, April 19, 2006

2006-04-15 057So much for the "I might be gone some time" post. I suddenly found I didn't have time to post to say I wouldn't have time to post. But one of the reasons I didn't post was because overslept on Good Friday, and so was late for meeting people for the Three Emperors exhibition at the Royal Academy. In true Anyhoo Cultural Write-Up style, it's finished now, so I can only say you should have gone.

But it was very good. After an extortionate lunch (but I wasn't paying), we went in about half-past-one. I lost my brother and my mother in the second room, as I spent ages looking at the scrolls (think Richard Scarry, Where's Wally and Usbourne books, but with kabuki Chinese opera, geishas and ensnared banners, or the Bayeux Tapestry done fastidiously with ink. The best aspect was that despite being and official record and a piece of propaganda, the scenes had flaws and the whole thing was obviously just for show, so fluttering ribbons ensnared each other, fights broke out and all the grand backdrop is held up at the back by bamboo scaffolding). But there are just so many parts of it that I liked, or made me think or allowed me to join the dots (I hadn't realised China was so Japanese [yes, I'm aware it might be vice versa, but it's the similarity which I wasn't expecting]).

So a superb exhibition, as suggested by us leaving at ten-past-seven. Admittedly by that stage I was beginning to muddle my fu's and my shou's (and I never did figure out how one sound can be written 10,000 different ways). But it did allow me to confuse the resident Chinese girl (whose blogname I've forgotten) by asking about five red bats and nine peaches and other bits of The 12 Days of Spring Festival. Homophones apparently, but as I managed to refer to the Manchu emperors as part of the Quing Dynasty (apparently Qing is Ching), my Mandarin isn't quite up to it.

Just been flicking through the official site (there's no mention of it on the RA's own site, even though the Aztecs is still on there). Stuff I want to mention:
- The Jade Mountain. Gorgeous for the rock alone.
- A map showing Lake Victoria along with an accurate representation of the Indian Ocean. I can't remember the date but as the last emperor pre-dated Queen Victoria just a tad, it is a slight "Oh". But what I found odd was that this map was made with help from Jesuits, so one wonders why the information didn't get back to Rome.
- The Chrysanthemum Dishes. The same shape bowl, but down in umpteen different colours, all of which look like something Poole is currently churning out.
- The still-life plate. It had a collection of objects to represent homophones and other visual references, and so spelt out long life, good fortune and general fecundity (that'll be the many-seeded pomegranate), and was designed to congratulate the recipient on passing the civil service exam, as represented by a crab. I can't remember the official reasoning, but according to my brother it's because crabs make people nervous, they're really hard to break into and but they're really nice once you're in. Ok, maybe that's a you-had-to-be-there.
- Deconstructivist calligraphy. Produced by Ming court artists protesting at the transfer of power to the Manchus.
- A really, really simple tea pot. Jade green, but just intentionally pared down design.
- Discovering that all those bits of red plastic Chinese trinketry are actually aping carved lacquer, which looks like red plastic.
Drat. Blogger has lost most of this post. Other salient points:
- Apparently the 10,000-shou vase is written in an archaic seal script (I asked SG how that many characters could mean the same thing). Still doesn't answer how ten thousand characters can all mean the same.
- I went home. I took some photographs of rabbits, and buds, and fences, and boxes, and buoys, and that's about it. I haven't finished titling, tagging or describing, so go and piss me off but commenting before I get to them.
- I'd forgotten how fun driving is (even if my car, which hasn't moved in months, did do an impression of the tardis when I tried to start it. Now I know how the BBC Radiophonic Workshop did it; starter motor and a nearly flat battery).
- I'd forgotten how many different colour trees there are, and that's only based on the colour of the twigs.
- I'd forgotten the smells.
- I'd forgotten the insects.
- I'd forgotten the birds.
- I'd forgotten the noise; birds, insects, church bells, train on the other side of the valley... I've just remembered the best title of any of the exhibits at the 3 Emperors, it was on a small painting: The sound of rain falling on lakes and rivers. I'd forgotten the sound of rain falling on trees, and on pools and rivers.

I'm sure there was other stuff, but I can't remember it now. Oh well.


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