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T.T. Tsui Gallery of Chinese Art

This gallery features fine and decorative Chinese art from the donations of The Tsui Art Foundation. Works of Chinese art ranging from Chinese ceramics and pottery sculptures to bronzes are displayed in the gallery.

A Glimpse of Tsui's Collection (Phase 1)

A Glimpse of Tsui's Collection (Phase 2)

Exhibit Highlights

Jue wine vessel with animal mask design

Jue wine vessel with animal mask design
Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century - 256 BC)
22(H) cm
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

The history of bronze-making in China can be traced back four thousand years, with this kind of craftsmanship reaching its peak during the period from the Shang Dynasty to the Western Zhou Dynasty. Bronzeware can be classified by shape and usage into more than 10 categories, including food, wine and water receptacles, weapons, musical instruments, and so on.

Jue were ancient vessels used for drinking wine. About AD 2000, people used to drink wine from ceramic jue, but with the advances in bronze-making craftsmanship, bronze jue became more and more popular up to the Western Zhou Dynasty.

Stove in green glaze
Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 - 220)
41(W) cm
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

In ancient China, the afterlife was conceived as a continuation of life on earth. To provide for the needs of the afterlife, a variety of mortuary objects (also known as "funerary objects" or "burial objects") were buried with the dead. Alongside jewellery, gold and silver, models and replicas of humans, animals and everyday objects were also buried. For example, this well-preserved, low-fired (700°C), lead-glazed stove has remained green as the glaze was able to stick firmly to the base. On the surface of the stove are paintings of poultry and cooking utensils as well as an inscription that reads "this stove allows the descendants of the dead to enjoy generations of wealth and happiness..."

Stove in green glaze

Pair of lokapalas tomb guardians with painted and gild decoration 1
Pair of lokapalas tomb guardians with painted and gild decoration 2

Pair of lokapalas tomb guardians with painted and gild decoration
Tang Dynasty (AD 618 - 907)
71(H) cm (each)
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

Following ancient Chinese tradition, mausoleums were built for the dead and a large number of useful household objects were buried with them as a tribute. Not surprisingly, a wide variety of burial objects, such as pottery replicas of male and female attendants, livestock, horses and carts, have been found in ancient mausoleums. These objects are not only instrumental for studying our ancestors' lives, they also represent collections of ancient pottery sculptures worthy of artistic appreciation. Take a look at this pair of lokapalas. Dressed in armour with chest plates and helmets featuring vermilion birds with outstretched wings, and holding weapons in their hands, they trample on small struggling demons. With their strong and majestic appearance, the lokapalas or tomb guards kept watch over the mausoleum and wiped out devils and demons. This pair of lokapalas with traces of gilding not only shows that elaborate funerary practices prevailed in the Tang period, but also reveals the marvellous imagination of the potters.

Jar with sgraffiato scrolling foliage in dark brown glaze
Cizhou ware
Jin Dynasty to Yuan Dynasty (AD 1115 - 1368)
43.5(H) cm
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

Cizhou kiln was one of the popular civilian kilns existing in areas of Henan, Hebei and Shanxi provinces. As the clay body - of yellowish brown, red and grey - was coarse and loose, the Cizhou kiln potters applied a layer of white slip on the surface and decorated the ware with carved, sgraffito and russet painted patterns before firing them in the kiln.

Cizhou kilns employed different ornamentation techniques. Among the most common were incised designs on white glaze, white glaze sgraffito, red and green painting on white glaze and incised designs on a beaded background. To get the black underglaze, the bisque was first coated with white slip with ornamental lines in black paint and then sharp tools were used to outline the pattern's features. Sometimes a whittling technique would be employed to expose the white bisque. The piece was subsequently coated with transparent glaze and fired in the kiln, thus creating a sharp contrast between the black and the white.

Jar with sgraffiato scrolling foliage in dark brown glaze

Pair of bowls decorated with flowers in famille rose enamel

Pair of bowls decorated with flowers in famille rose enamel
Yongzheng period, Qing Dynasty (AD 1723 - 1735)
15(Dia) cm (each)
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

Chinese ceramic production reached its peak during the Ming and Qing dynasties, when a wonderful assortment of porcelain ware was created. Among the most common painted decorations were doucai, famille verte enamels, sancai, cloisonne enamels and famille rose enamels.

Famille rose enamels, also known as "soft colours", were derived from famille verte enamels and cloisonne enamels. The design originated during the reign of Emperor Kangxi and matured in the Yongzheng period of the Qing Dynasty. After firing, the white porcelain was first decorated with patterns and then coated with a layer of glass white powder. Enamelled with an opaque glaze, it was placed in the kiln to be fired at a low temperature. These painted bowls are decorated with fine patterns, exquisite brushwork as well as a light and graceful glaze to produce a refreshing appeal.

Money tree with pottery stand
Han Dynasty (206BC - AD220)
133.5(H) cm
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

Money tree was first found in the Han tombs of Sichuan. It was a unique object for burial. This practice reflected the great aspiration of the ancient people in seeking wealth. Apart from old coins, money tree was decorated with "Queen Mother of the West" and acrobatic images which were popular in the Han Dynasty. The lovely appearance of money tree and the fine casting demonstrates the superb craftsmanship of the Han Dynasty.

Money tree with pottery stand

Horse and rider

Horse and rider
Sichuan Type
Han Dynasty (206BC - AD220)
106(H) cm
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

Pottery sculptures with distinct regional traits were uncovered in large number from tombs dating from the mid Eastern Han period in Sichuan. They are mostly earthenware and large in size. Incised lines or applique pieces were commonly used to describe the details. The decoration on the garments of the equestrian figure and the leather straps on the horse's head are typical examples. This equestrian figure is composed of separately moulded sections. The figure wears a flat cap and holds a small bird on the right fist. The face wears a slight smile and his expression is relaxed and natural. The horse holds its head up and the ears are erect. The mouth is open as if neighing and the horse appears gallant and spirited.

Pair of painted pottery female figures on horsebacks
Tang dynasty (618 - 907)
36-37(H) cm
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

It is reflected from the unearthed female figurines of the Tang Dynasty that the society at that time was very open in which the women could enjoy a high social status. They could participate in various social activities such as travelling, playing ball games and horse riding. Furthermore, the women were very modern and had created different hair, make-up and fashion styles, revealing the prosperity of the Tang Dynasty. The two young ladies with twin chignons on top of their heads are sitting up straight on horsebacks. Their dress is in the "Barbarian" style. Their pierced fists probably once held reigns and have their feet in stirrups. The stout and muscular horses with short manes and knotted tails are standing foursquare on rectangular base slabs. A blanket is laid under each saddle.

Pair of painted pottery female figures on horsebacks

Bowl with purple-splashed pale blue glaze

Bowl with purple-splashed pale blue glaze
Jun ware
Yuan dynasty (1279-1368)
16(D) cm
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

Jun kiln, situated at Juntai in Yunxian City in Henan Province, was one of the five famous kilns of the Song Dynasty. The Jun glaze belongs to the northern celadon system. It is a type of opaque blue glaze of different intensities. Lavender blue is a relatively dark tone, while pale blue is light, and clare de lune is even paler with an inner sheen. The Jun kiln used oxidised copper as the colouring agent. The pieces were finished by firing in a reduction atmosphere at a high temperature of 1300°C. Since the copper red glaze material contained other oxidised metal materials, changes occurred in the kiln, and various glaze colours, merged to form accidental suffused glazing. This is a bowl with purple-splashed pale blue glaze. Its light brown porcelain body is covered with a thick and shiny opal glaze, producing a simple and elegant tone.

Bowl with underglaze blue decoration of children at play in a garden scene
Jiajing period, (1522 - 1566)
Daming Jiajing lian zhi mark
30.6(D) cm
Donated by The Tsui Art Foundation

By the time of the Ming Dynasty, the technique of firing underglaze blue porcelain had fully matured. In official and civilian kilns, underglaze blue porcelain was the dominant form of porcelain production. The underglaze blue porcelain produced by the offical kilns during the reign of Emperor Jiajing in the late Ming Dynasty is bright-coloured. The fine porcelain body of such ware is clean and hard and the black spots are invisible. During the reign of Emperor Jiajing, a policy of "manufacture in private kilns for official kilns" was adopted. Since then, certain ornamentation techniques previously reserved for the exclusive use of the official kilns could be applied by the civilian kilns. On the other hand, themes on folk stories and children at play could be found on the official kiln wares. On this underglaze blue porcelain bowl, there is a painting of several groups of children playing happily and vigorously in the courtyard. Some of them play a ball while some gather flowers. A painting of children at play, which is also known as "hundred children painting", has an implied meaning of "more children, more happiness". The theme of children at play was commonly adopted in the paintings and ceramics of Song Dynasty as well as the porcelains of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Bowl with underglaze blue decoration of children at play in a garden scene