Ceramics in Chinese Architecture, an ancient craft tradition
Engs publication Colours and Contrast: Ceramic Traditions in Chinese Architecture is for sale at the venue, signed by the author.
Ancient Chinese architecture became a serious subject for scholars only in the 1930s, and in China this work was then interrupted for 50 years by subsequent events. Since the 1980s, the pool of surviving buildings available for study has suffered from China’s modernization and from well-intentioned (but unsympathetic) restoration. The visual impact of these structures comes chiefly from their fine ceramic ornament, which tells us much about who built and used these buildings. This ornament is vulnerable and, as isolated fragments, can be difficult to interpret. Clarence Eng argues that these ceramics should be studied in good time and in context on the dwindling number of intact structures, and he notes that they represent a craft tradition separate from that which has produced domestic ceramic wares.
Clarence Eng 翁纯全 is a research associate in the Department of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. After graduating at Cambridge his former career in Royal Dutch Shell included senior posts in Europe, South Asia and China. He is now an architectural historian specialising in Chinese history and questions of long-range cultural transmission. His book Colours and Contrast: Ceramic Traditions in Chinese Architecture (2015) extends earlier PhD research and he is co-author of The Phoenix Mosque and the Persians of Medieval Hangzhou, due for publication in 2016.
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