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Culture is soul of a nation: Dr Fouzia

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Chinese new year music gala and intangible art show draws big crowed at PNCA

 

By Farman Ali

Islamabad, Jan 17: A cultural gala featuring thrilling opera dances, enchanting musical performances, and display of tradition art heralded Chinese New Year and spring season at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) on Thursday evening.

The show drew a large number of people mostly Chinese nationals and their families and the residents of the capital city to enjoy the various colours of Chinese ancient and contemporary cultural heritage.

Dr Fouzia Saeed, the newly-appointed Director-General of the PNCA in her welcome address spoke of the importance of art and culture.

“Culture plays a significant role in a nation’s life. We believe culture – tangible and intangible — is the soul of a nation,” she commented.

It is this spirit that Pakistan and China are collaborating in cultural activities and exchanges, Ms Fouzia added.

She spoke about various festivals especially spring season-related festivals celebrated around the world.

“Many civilized nations start their calendar year with the spring season,” she informed. She mentioned Navruz which is celebrated on March 21, to start the new year in many parts of the world, including Central and South Asia, Middle East, Balkan and in some parts of Pakistan.

“Many new things start. Young couples wait to tie the knot on the first day of the New Year,” she added. Similarly, we have the tradition of Baisakhi and Holi which are also spring-related festivals celebrated in South Asia.

The celebrations of the New Year cut across many cultures and nations. We are happy to celebrate the spring season and our friendship with China, she concluded.

The event was organized by China Cultural Centre in collaboration with the Overseas Chinese Association and Department of Culture and Tourism of Hebei Province of China to celebrate the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival.

Chinese intangible cultural heritage

An exhibition of Chinese intangible cultural heritage featuring the country’s rich and exquisite art attracted a large number of Islamabad residents to enjoy the colourful and unique art of one of the ancient civilizations and modern economic power of the world.

The exhibition showcased the latest development, expression, charm, style of the traditional Chinese art such as ‘Egg Carving’, ‘Dishili Kite’, ‘Yu County Paper Cutting’, ‘Wuqiang New Year Painting’, ‘Hengshui Inside-Painting’, “Calligraphy” and tea making.

The history of Chinese paintings can be traced back to 2,000 years ago. Three primary subjects dominate Chinese paintings: the birds, flowers, figures and landscape of the countryside, mountains, and sea. The paintings are also related to the art of calligraphy which is a symbol of traditional culture, done with pen, ink, paper, and inkstone. The formation and development of Chinese calligraphy is related to the origin and evolution of characters. With the passage of time, five types of scripts — standard, clerical and running, cursive, seal – developed.

While using black ink as the basic ingredient to produce different tones, and brush to make many kinds of lines and colours, the Chinese painters focus more on the brushstrokes than the subject matter.

The Chinese traditional painting with a long history has a unique and independent system. Artists paint figures, landscapes, flowers and birds in two distinctive styles on a special kind of paper (Xua Pa or silk) using brushes, ink, and pigments. The two styles are ‘Gongbi’, or meticulous painting which is the traditional realistic style and the ‘Xieyi’, or impressionist freehand brushwork style characterized by vivid expression and bold and vigorous outlines such as wall paintings, screens, scrolls, albums, and fan covers.

Wuqiang New Year painting originated from Wuqiang, Hebei province during the Yoongle period of the Ming Dynasty. It reached its peak in the Qing Dynasty.

The paintings are rich in colour and texture depicting folk customs, farming events, astronomy and geography, opera legends, historical allusions, social changes, various pictures of windows, lanterns, the middle hall, and narrow screen, etc. These paintings are called the “epitome of agricultural society”.

The traditional inside painting, unique folk art was formed during the Qing Dynasty in Hengshui city and its surroundings of Hebei province. It is considered as one of the national intangible cultural heritages. Pictures are painted on the inner wall of a transparent or semi-transparent container. It has strict structures, rich line drawing techniques and harmonious colours with both painting and calligraphy. Artworks are bold and unrestrained, full of poetic painting, bearing portrait light colours, clear and rich in texture.

Dishili is the birthplace, of the Chinese kite. Because of its unique geographical position and history, it formed a unique pattern combining the characteristics of Beijing and Tianjin. With exquisite workmanship, the kite has a delicate structure developed through more than 500 years of inheritance by many generations of inheritors.

The art of egg carving is folk art. People draw flowers and birds, fish and insects, facial masks and other patterns on coloured eggs when they marry, celebrate their birthdays and have children as a symbol of good luck. Artists select a variety of eggs to drill holes, hollow out and use many carving techniques such as ‘Yin’, ‘Yang’, line anaglyph, openwork, shadow, point, jigsaw, Tao, Chen, hollowing, out inlays, to make exquisite patterns on the surface of eggshells. The art usually relies on the natural colour of eggshell, giving people a pleasant feeling.

Besides the exhibition, some of the prominent artists demonstrated their art and craft on the spot to amuse the visitors. The green tea stall was the main attraction offering a variety of tea for the visitors free of cost.

Dance, music performances

A 35-member troupe mostly young artists in their 20s from Hebei province performed folk dances, instrumentals, acrobatics, and traditional Chinese songs.

The items included “new horse racing”, folk song “joyful gathering together”, a folk dances such as “flapping butterflies”, “kite flying”, Mongolian “grassland rhythm”, “rhyme in the wind”, “big Yangko” and “beautiful myth”.

The artists also enthralled the audience with instrumental performances of “Jasmine Flower”, “Changbai Mountain Son”, a rhapsody on flute, pipa and erhu, a solo song “Deep Night” and dance and instrumental performance of “Chinese Happy New Year”.

New Year and Spring Festival is the most significant festival celebrated in China, with a week-long holiday. As the most colorful annual event, the traditional celebration lasts longer, up to two weeks.

Unlike the universal New Year observed on January 1st, Chinese New Year is not celebrated on a fixed date. In 2020 the festival falls on Jan 25. It is the year of the rat according to the Chinese zodiac, which features a 12-year cycle with each year represented by a specific animal.

On the occasion, every house is decorated with the most favoured colour, the bright red lanterns, Chinese knots, Spring Festival couplets, ‘Fu’ character pictures, and red window paper-cuts. People enjoy a reunion dinner with the whole family.

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