Library notes: Check out ‘Treasures of China’
By Amy Notarius
By Rowan Public Library
If you’re enjoying the coverage of this summer’s Olympic games in Beijing, you may be interested in learning more about China’s cultural history.
Check out “Treasures of China” by John Chinnery, available at Rowan Public Library. Chinnery, a professor of East Asian studies at Edinburgh University, Scotland, first visited China in 1954. Although he could not return until after the Cultural Revolution, he has visited every year since then.
China is the only ancient civilization to have survived to the present. The Chinese were the first to cast iron and forge steel, make paper and gunpowder, use a compass and print books. Chinnery traces China’s history by looking at the artifacts representative of each period or dynasty.
Readers are treated to stunning photographs of pottery, sculpture, painting and calligraphy, beginning with an earthenware jar from 2200 BCE.
Some of the more remarkable images include the terracotta army in full battle array prepared to guard the tomb of the First Emperor (247-210 BCE). More than 8,000 of these life-size soldiers have been uncovered so far, each with individual faces modeled from real men or portraits.
The Five Dynasties period (907-960) sees the development of the art of painting, in particular the landscape painting. Though few examples remain, painters of the later Song dynasty (960-1279) took the ideas of their predecessors to create their paintings, many of which still survive.
The Tang Dynasty (618-907) is considered a Golden Age for achievement in the arts. The country as a whole enjoyed great prosperity during this time, and artists had leisure time to create. Poetry and sculpture flourished, and new techniques were invented in pottery, porcelain, weaving and dyeing.
Tang potters introduced the use of colored glazes on a white background, especially the “three-colored” ware, most often a combination of green, amber and white. The characteristic blue-and-white pottery many recognize today first appeared in the early 1300s.
The city of Jingdezhen in eastern China developed as a major porcelain center due in part to the large deposits of kaolin (China clay) and feldspar (China stone) nearby. During the Ming dynasty, nearly 70 craftsmen might work on one highly decorative and colorful piece. Some artists would specialize in different designs, like mountain scenes, birds and animals, while others had the separate tasks of tracing, embossing, engraving and coloring the designs.
The images included here are lovely to look at, and Chinnery helps you follow the history of China’s political, spiritual and philosophical development as you trace the developments in art. “Treasures of China” presents a fascinating introduction to China’s rich artistic legacy and its influence on modern culture and artists. You can find this and other books about China at Rowan Public Library.
Computer classes: Monday, 7 p.m., Creating Web Pages Part 2; Thursday, 2:30 p.m., Creating Presentations with Power Point; Aug. 25, 7 p.m., Introduction to Searching the World Wide Web; Aug. 28, 2:30 p.m., Creating Spreadsheets with Excel.
Classes are free and held at the library headquarters on the second floor. Sessions are about 90 minutes long. Class size is limited to 16 on a first-come, first-served basis.
Movies in August ó All are unrated silent films from the 1920s. Some movies appropriate for younger audiences. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Free popcorn and lemonade. Tuesday, “Metropolis” with Fritz Lang; Aug. 26, “City Lights” with Charlie Chaplin.
Displays: Headquarters ó Dolls by Rowan Doll Society; South ó lunch boxes by Sharon Ross; East ó ceramic and porcelain dolls by Margie Von Cannon.Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
Web site: For a listing of all library programs at all library locations, www.rowanpubliclibrary. org.