(East-West Question) Zhang Zhenyu: How does the small glass plate witness the history of technological exchanges between China and the West?

  China News Agency, Fuzhou, May 17th: How does the glass plate witness the history of technological exchanges between China and the West?

  ——Interview with Zhang Zhenyu, Director of Fuzhou Museum

  China News Agency reporter Liu Kegeng

  In the Museum of Fuzhou City, China, there is a collection of the peak work of the Song Dynasty utensils - a small silver plate with a blue chrysanthemum petal pattern.

  How does this small plate testify that Chinese and Western glass are "harmonious but different"?

On the occasion of the "International Museum Day", Zhang Zhenyu, curator of Fuzhou Museum and visiting professor of the School of Humanities of Fuzhou University, accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency "East-West Question" to explain this.

  The following is a summary of the interview transcript:

China News Service reporter: What kind of history does the Chinese feeder have?

Zhang Zhenyu:

As the crystallization of ancient Chinese civilization and the art of the times, the utensils are colorful and changeable, which is the delicate, delicate and subtle artistic language of the Orientals.

In ancient times, utensils belonged to precious handicrafts, and only a few royal relatives and wealthy families could enjoy them.

  There are many theories about the origin of the feeder in the industry.

However, it is generally believed that at least during the Warring States Period, the ancient Chinese had mastered the craftsmanship of the utensils.

Some experts speculate that when the ancients cast bronze ware, the splashed lead and copper solution mixed with the clay, accidentally forming the prototype of the ware.

Craftsmen develop on this basis to form the production process of the feeder.

  As early as the Shang Dynasty, metallurgy, alchemy, and primitive porcelain craftsmanship were important sprouting conditions for glass manufacturing.

In the Western Zhou Dynasty, the glass-firing technology really took shape, as evidenced by glass beads and tubes found in many tombs in the Western Zhou Dynasty in China.

From the Warring States Period to the Qin and Han Dynasties, glass ushered in an important period of development, with more varieties and more gorgeous colors than before.

It can be inferred from the unearthed materials that the materials were ordinary ornaments in the Qin Dynasty, and some of them were inlaid with color, such as the ears filled with blue materials, and those inlaid with malachite and silver threads.

  In the Han Dynasty, glass was called "five-color jade", and glass imitation jade products began to become fashionable.

During the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, lead-barium glass was developed. At the latest in the Northern Wei Dynasty, China had adopted the glass blowing technology.

Since the Tang Dynasty, glass products began to play an important role, such as all kinds of three-colored objects in the Tang Dynasty.

In the famous "Ladies with Hairpins", the ladies wear a string of transparent ornaments on their wrists, which are also considered by experts to be the hand bracelets of the utensils.

The Tang Dynasty poet Wei Yingwu once praised Liuli in "Ying Liuli": "Color is the same as ice, and nothing separates fine dust."

Eastern Han Dynasty "lead barium glass earrings, glass beads".

Photo by China News Agency Yu Xiangquan

  In the Song Dynasty, the level of glass craftsmanship has improved again.

The 33 relic glass bottles unearthed in a Northern Song Dynasty Peiji in Dingxian County, Hebei Province, the walls are like tissue paper and crystal clear, which is a testament to the progress of glass manufacturing technology and the advanced level of glass blowing in the Northern Song Dynasty.

The use of feeders in the folk also tends to be common, and they are mostly used in decorations and Buddhist supplies.

Yuan Dynasty glass imitation jade has reached the point where it can be confused.

  The Qing Dynasty was the most glorious period in the history of the development of ancient Chinese colored glaze, with a wide variety of colored glazes and superb craftsmanship.

In the thirty-fifth year of Emperor Kangxi's reign, Emperor Kangxi ordered the Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to set up a "workshop" for glazed utensils, which was newly named "glass factory" to distinguish the glazed brick and tile factory.

Since then, the name "glass" has been widely spread.

China News Agency reporter: Why is the blue material chrysanthemum petal pattern buckle silver small dish called the peak of the Song Dynasty material?

Zhang Zhenyu:

A small silver plate with a chrysanthemum petal pattern buckled in Song Dynasty currently in the Fuzhou Museum, with a diameter of 8 cm, a base diameter of 5 cm, and a height of 2.5 cm. It can be placed in the palm of an adult; its abdomen is in the shape of 24 chrysanthemum petals. Like a blooming chrysanthemum.

This exquisite piece of blue material has been handed down for thousands of years.

A small silver plate with blue chrysanthemum petal pattern buckle in the collection of Fuzhou Museum.

Photo courtesy of Fuzhou Museum

  The precious thing about this disc is that the production process is complicated.

It is cast with peacock blue material, the shape is regular, translucent, and the color is pure and bright.

There is a silver hoop inlaid on the lip, and the thickness of the silver buckle is uniform, which fits the body well.

  The yield is low, and it is rarely handed down.

This small dish is made by one-time casting. In ancient times, it was not like modern times when there were various precise instruments for assistance. It depended on the feel, and a little carelessness would bring imperfect results.

Therefore, each piece of the finished product is a one-of-a-kind piece, reserved for the royal family for a long time.

In addition, thousands of years have passed since the Song Dynasty, and it is not easy to preserve and pass on to this day.

  Pigments are precious.

Because the raw materials for extracting blue come from natural ores in foreign countries, the resources are scarce, mining is also very difficult, and it is extremely difficult to obtain, so blue has been a luxury color in the eyes of artists since ancient times.

It is said that Michelangelo failed to obtain precious pigments, and his painting "The Burial" was not completed; Vermeer used very little blue to embellish the picture, but he was deeply mired in family debt.

This cultural relic in the Fuzhou Museum is made of precious glass raw materials, combined with blue pigments, which are more expensive than gold in ancient times, and achieved the blue material quality through the exquisite skills of the craftsmen known as "fingertip stunts in fire". , which is even more expensive.

  It is a rare treasure among the cultural relics in the national museum collections.

In the 1990s, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage dispatched senior appraisal experts to form an expert appraisal team for first-class cultural relics to appraise the treasures in the collections of museums across China.

In 1995, this small silver plate with chrysanthemum petal pattern buckled in Song Dynasty was unanimously identified as a first-class cultural relic by experts.

China News Agency reporter: How does such a piece of material cultural relic show Chinese civilization and scientific exchanges between China and foreign countries?

Zhang Zhenyu:

Cultural relics are used objects created in the history of human development.

It itself is the witness and witness of history.

  This Song blue material with chrysanthemum petal pattern buckle silver plate shows the prosperous economic and cultural outlook of the Song Dynasty. There were major developments in agriculture and porcelain making, outstanding achievements in the navigation industry and shipbuilding industry, and developed overseas trade; it reflected the craftsmen at that time. Exquisite craftsmanship and artistic characteristics of the times have witnessed the development of Chinese glass and blue pigments and the brilliance of silver button technology.

  The shape of chrysanthemum petals is not uncommon in Song people's daily life, which reflects Song people's love for chrysanthemums.

The chrysanthemums blooming in the late autumn symbolize the noble and refined spirit, which conforms to the simple, tranquil and natural aesthetic taste of the literati of the Song Dynasty.

The Fuzhou Museum "Mindu Huazhang - Fuzhou History Exhibition" displays the scene photos of the song blue material chrysanthemum petal pattern buckle silver small plate.

Photo courtesy of Fuzhou Museum

  At the same time, the development of the feeder manufacturing industry also reflects the mutual exchange of Chinese and foreign scientific cultures.

  In the long history, the production techniques of Chinese glass and Western glass have been continuously exchanged and integrated.

According to documentary records and archaeological discoveries, countries in the Western Regions had already passed Western glass to China through the Silk Road during the Han Dynasty; during the Tang Dynasty, not only on land, but also Tianzhu glass came across the ocean through the Maritime Silk Road; during the Song Dynasty The Caliphate countries of China and Western European missionaries in the early and mid-Qing Dynasty all introduced the glazed production technology to China, which had a profound impact on the glazed manufacturing in China.

  There are also differences between Chinese and Western glass production processes.

The glass unearthed in ancient China has been identified as mostly lead and barium glass, which is easily broken when heated and has poor chemical stability.

China has always been a country with jade since ancient times, but due to the limitation of jade output and uneven geographical distribution, the ancient Chinese utensils, especially in the Warring States and Han Dynasties, mostly aimed to imitate the characteristics of jade. The light transmittance of the feeder is relatively low, but the color is more bright and bright.

The western glass has always been dominated by sodium and calcium glass, which has good temperature resistance, strong adaptability to sudden cooling and sudden heating, and better light transmittance.

A glass bottle with a Chinese style in Europe in the 18th century.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Zhang Qiang

China News Service reporter: How can rare treasures travel through historical time and space to witness the exchanges and mutual learning between Chinese and Western civilizations?

Zhang Zhenyu:

There are a lot of rare treasures in various parts of China, such as the dark blue glass cup and lake blue glass cup of the Western Han Dynasty unearthed from the Hepu Han Tomb. .

Potassium silicate glass of the same period was also found in Southeast Asia and India.

According to "Han Book Geography" records, "Emperor Wu sent people into the sea and Biglass", which is from the current Beihai to go to sea for trade.

These glazed utensils are important evidence of trade, cultural and technological exchanges between China and overseas.

Lake blue glass unearthed from the Han Tomb in Hepu.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Zhai Liqiang

  After the Eastern Han Dynasty, most of the glassware was shipped from overseas, landed from the city of Haikou in the south and transported to the north.

Glass is fragile and difficult to transport on the land Silk Road, thus indirectly stimulating the development and prosperity of the Maritime Silk Road.

A glass painting enclosure on display at the "Forbidden City and the 'Maritime Silk Road'" cultural relic exhibition at the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Photo by Chen Xiaodong issued by China News Agency

  Archaeological discoveries of Islamic glass have been found in many places in China, such as the base of the No. 5 Pagoda in Dingxian County, Hebei Province, the Wuwei Song Pagoda in Anhui, the Huiguang Pagoda in the Northern Song Dynasty in Ruian, Zhejiang, and the tomb of Geng Yanyi, Liaoning, Chaoyang Guyingzi, Liaoning, etc.

  In 1987, a plate-mouth vase with blue geometric pattern appliqué was unearthed at Famen Temple.

Abroad, among the Islamic glass collected by museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Rijksmuseum in Berlin, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, each has a glass bottle with a shape or decoration similar to the one unearthed from Famen Temple.

It has been speculated, based on the heat-finishing techniques used on these vessels, that this type of glassware is an early Islamic work.

  There are many Islamic glass unearthed in China, with reliable age and excavation sites, and most of them are fine products.

China has become one of the most important discoveries of Islamic glass outside of its origin.

The discovery of a large number of Islamic glass in China not only provides important information for the study of Islamic glass itself, but also presents the exchange and mutual learning between Chinese and Western civilizations.


  Interviewee Profile:

  Zhang Zhenyu, curator of Fuzhou Museum, visiting professor at the School of Humanities of Fuzhou University.

He has presided over "National Historical and Cultural City - Fuzhou", "Fuzhou Ancient Education History Exhibition", "Pingtan "Wanjiao No. There are more than 100 large and medium-sized comprehensive and thematic exhibitions.

He is the author of the book "Looking for History in Bo," and the editor-in-chief of "Mindu Huazhang - Fuzhou History Exhibition", "Haisi Relics - "Wanjiao No. 1" Shipwreck and Porcelain from Pingtan Waters", "Blessed in the Blessed Land", " Millennium Silk Language - Catalogue of Textiles Unearthed from Song Tombs at Chayuan Mountain in the Northern Suburbs of Fuzhou", "Retaining Memories in Famous City of Things - Telling the Story of Fuzhou Cultural Relics", published more than 80 papers in professional journals of cultural and motto.