Bronze art master brings new vitality to ancient craft 1

Bronze holds a special meaning in Chinese culture. The Bronze Age, starting around 1700 BC, had a profound impact on the development of civilization in the nation. In our special four-part series, we will follow one of China’s most well-known bronze art masters, Zhu Bingren. His innovative ideas have helped to bring new vitality to this ancient craft. In the first episode, we go back to the beginning of his journey, to see how his family tradition of making bronzeware has influenced his artistic works.

Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, boasts the most bronze architecture in China. People can board a traditional cruise ship on the West Lake or view the exquisite decorations at Lingyin Temple. And the man behind all these bronze wonders is none other than veteran artisan Zhu Bingren.

Zhu was born in Zhejiang’s ShaoxingCity to a family of artisans who have been practicing the bronze craft for over a century. But the Zhu family was originally known for its literary traditions. In fact, Zhu Yurun, one of Zhu Bingren’s ancestors, was a famous regional calligrapher.

In 1875, brothers Zhu Qingrun and Zhu Yuxiang started their own workshop, selling bronzeware utensils.

At the time, the move drew a certain amount of derision. But Zhu Bingren says the literary tradition is far from lost; rather, it is embedded in their bronzeware making.

In Chinese culture, bronzeware was often regarded as the vessels of kings, signifying the mystery, solemnity and majesty of the imperial court, royal power and order.

We can still get a glimpse of this with works like the Sword of King Goujian of Yue from the Spring and Autumn Period, and the chime bells from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng from the Warring States Period.

Even after iron emerged as the material of choice for weapons and utensils, bronzeware was still greatly valued and used.

Zhu Bingren believes that is why his ancestors started the workshop and subsequent generations carried on and improved the craft.

Now he hopes to take this a step further with his own artistic vision.

In 1995, he broke new ground by creating the first bronze mural of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy. He later extended the use of bronze to calligraphy, harking back to his family’s original literary traditions.

For Zhu, the year 1998 was extremely productive.

Combining bronze craft with his unique understanding of calligraphy, he transferred the flow of ink on paper to gleaming solid bronze, winning critical acclaim from the art community. As a result, the family brand shone more brightly than ever.

Media Contact
Company Name: The Information Office of Hangzhou Municipal Government
Contact Person: Cai Jingwen
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Phone: 0510-68559077
Country: China
Website: http://www.ehangzhou.gov.cn/

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