(ORDO NEWS) — The Indra and Harry Banga Gallery of the City University of Hong Kong (“CityU”) presents the new exhibition “A Glimpse of Tang Prosperity from Murals” from December 3rd, 2021, to February 27th, 2022, revealing the prosperity and art achievements of Tang China.
“A Glimpse of Tang Prosperity from Murals” is a large-scale exhibition, jointly organised by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, the National Cultural Heritage Administration, the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Heritage Administration, and the Hong Kong Rosamond Foundation.
Prior to coming to Hong Kong, the exhibition was very well received in Taiwan and Macau. Now the 42 mural paintings, discovered at imperial and secondary tombs, can be seen in Hong Kong, where they are recombined for the first time, using digital technologies and light projection to restore the full splendor of imperial tomb decoration.
Different from the more popular murals from Buddhist caves and shrines, the Tang tomb murals in this exhibition are distinctive for their secular and multifaceted subject matter, allowing us a glimpse of Tang political, social, and cultural life. Besides, the tomb murals discovered underground have been perfectly preserved and have survived the ravages of time.
They provide precious first-hand visual evidence of Tang art and history, corroborating the textual record and offering insights into social hierarchy, burial practices, court life and aesthetic of the time. The exhibition is composed of three main parts:
• Immersive Impression Zone: This is the prologue of the exhibition. An original 4-minute animation video, accompanied by Tang-style music, transports viewers to the magnificent Tang capital of Chang’an, a cosmopolitan city found more than 1,300 years ago.
Starting with the scene of bustling Chang’an where locals, marchants, foreign envoys, exchange students and other figures bumped into each other, the imperial palace and the surrounding landscape of mountains and rivers are shown afterwards. The video ends at the entrance of an imperial tomb, leading viewers to the next exhibition section.
• Imperial Tomb Mural Projection Tunnel: Imitating the design of tombs with high-resolution digital projection, a series of 18-metre-long tomb tunnel decorated with 42 recombined mural paintings is recreated. In adjoining rooms, the three main themes of the murals are explored: Etiquette and Ceremonies, Hunting and Leisure, and Court Life. Ng Check Yin, renowned composer and author of “Tang Resonating”, has specially composed a Tang-style music for this mural projection section.
• Animation Zone: Four most representative mural paintings, Gate Tower, Polo, Ladies of the Court, Musicians and Dancers, are selected and turned into animations, offering a view of court life in the Tang capital of Chang’an.
There the viewer can admire the robust optimism of Tang society, the magnificent palace architecture, and the vibrancy of its intercultural exchanges. Besides, the animations are complemented by mural descriptions to encourage viewers to pay attention to details and appreciate the nuances of the murals.
A series of public seminars will be conducted during the exhibition period. Scholars from various fields are invited as speakers to offer a deeper understanding of the history, social life, art and architecture of the Tang Dynasty.
Dr Isabelle Frank, the Director of the Indra and Harry Banga Gallery, said, “The Gallery aims to engage the community through such innovative exhibitions that integrate art and technology in interdisciplinary initiatives and which promote cultural exchanges. We encourage everyone, young people in particular, to come and admire these precious Tang dynasty murals.”
Mr Davis Leung, the exhibition’s curator, added, “Tang people regarded death as a continuation of life and a new beginning, rather than an end. The Tang tombs reflected the living’s earnest hopes for the dead and presented a vision of the afterlife. Consequently, the murals generally depicted subjects of everyday reality. Through this play of light and shadow, we hope to transport viewers to the glorious age of the Tang.”
In conjunction with the mural exhibition, the Gallery is exhibiting objects of high level of sophistication of Tang arts and crafts. The 52 extant exhibits provide material evidence of the cosmopolitanism of the period and of the range in medium and style.
The gold and silver jewelry and vessels, writing implements, and painted earthenware figurines embody the sumptuous aesthetics of Tang China. The horse ornaments, bronze mirrors, and pushou knockers reflect the cultural influence of the Western Regions. A bird-shaped lid, on the white-glazed handled pitcher, and other glazed earthenware objects, document China’s interactions with faraway Europe.
The coins from China and elsewhere, with inscriptions and images, demonstrate the rich connections existing between the various Eurasian regions and. And the fragments of Buddhist sculptures and tomb inscriptions are precious testimonies of the flourishing of Buddhism and other foreign religions in Tang China.
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