Our Lovely Home: The Exhibit of Traditional Chinese Household Wares

Home is the place of warmth, the bay of sentiment and the paradise of the mentality. It is also the witness of time, history and affection.

The thimble that mothers used in stitching soles, the sword that fathers used to hunt and the water pipe they used to smoke, the four treasures of the study for writing poems, mud whistle for child, belly bib used in childhood, the pouch that girls gave to their beloved, hairpin and flowery kerchief, wine cups used to drink “cross-cupped wine” at the first night of marriage, tiger-shaped hat for boys, flowery shoes for damsels, the grooving plane that neighbors used and ancient bows they collected…… All these were what we used in the past. They were presented here and help you recollect the memory of childhood.

 

You might consider that many of these have being in your home. That is true. Ordinary as they are, they are exhibited here as legacies in a live setting. The spirit of these household wares has being and is showing us how proud and beautiful their masters were when using or wearing them. Meanwhile, they also telling us with a pity, that living conditions changed, these unique and historical articles were deserted, detached or burned as they were thought of being either too unfashionable, too old or worn-out. The cultural and historical information associated with them also gradually faded out and perished.

Chinese Ethnic Museum, the new master of these articles, is committed to protecting and collecting these household wares and let people recall their memory of the past. To protect these historical witnesses of ours, may our home more beautiful. Where is the exhibit? It is on the Bai Branch Museum, the south park of China Ethnic Museum. What you will find in the exhibit? On the first floor: Pouch, belly bid, pillow ends, hat, ethnic shoes, ethnic bag, Chinese silver decorations, needle and its accompanies, traditional button and handicraft tools. On the second floor: Water pipe and snuff sets, Chinese smoking sets and opium smoking sets, drink sets, tea sets, four treasures of the study, hairpins, mud whistles, chopstick cages, bows and arrows, ethnic swords and traditional locks.

Click the hyper links bellow for more information on subjects.

Embroidered Pouch

Hebao is the pinyin for Chinese name of embroidered pouch. It is a kind of ornament of traditional clothing of Chinese. Except being used as a bag, hebao is more often a symbol of people’s aspiration for happiness and perfection, as well as an important expression of vision and emotion.

People began to wear hebao before Qin Dynasty (BC 200). Hebao was widely spread among people as a precious ornament in Tang Dynasty. Such custom is still popular in some ethnic minorities today.

Hebao looks small but a classic needlework for women. It has become a token of young girls for their secret fancy, love, engagement and marriage, or a symbol of praying for more sons or grandsons. It can be given to the elderly for good wish of health and longevity. It can be given to friends as the greetings to wealth and good luck. Hebao can also be used as a sacred object for worship for God. Such a small bag carries the great wishes for love, happiness and longevity. 

Hebao can be worn in daily life as a wallet, a needle bag, a jewelry bag, a perfumed bag, a bag carrying loose items, such as glasses, frizzen, keys, watch, and a worship bag with mini statue of god.

People wore hebao at different positions according to their age and gender. Men usually wore it on either side of their girdles, while women between knots of their coat. The elderly usually wore it under the waist, while children in front of their chest.

The embroidery on hebao varies in different regions such as Jiangsu, Hunan, Guangdong, Beijing, Sichuan and Fujian. Different ethnic group, such as Miao, Zhuang, Dong, Tu and Man, has its unique style in design. The materials of hebao are various textiles including cotton cloth and silk fabrics. Some knitting techniques are the most commonly used, for instance, plain stitch, counted stitch, padded appliqué and flat velvet design. Every hebao has a belt on the top and tassels at the bottom, usually with jade or pearls as ornament. Some ethnic groups also decorate hebao with metal, bamboo and rattan, shells and fur-skins.

The 288 items exhibited here with their own ethnic characteristic. They are collected from the areas of Beijing, Shanxi, northwest China, and southwest China including Tibet. Those items were made in different times, from Ming Dynasty until modern times. Some of them may be dated back to 600 years.

Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Hats

The hat, which was called “Guan” in ancient times, was a sign of people’s status and a symbol of a mature man. The hats that interpret the etiquette and status were called “Guan” or “Mian” at that time. With the development of human history and increasing demand of life and production, the main function of hat has been transformed from just decorating into some practical application such as keeping warm and preventing harm.
 
The long history of hat marks a gradual integration of its decorating function in demonstration of etiquette, religion, spiritual quality and aesthetic appreciation with practical application of winter-proofing, sun-shading, rain-shading and worm-expelling. It looks small but a vivid embodiment of its ethnic, regional, cultural features as well as characteristic of folk custom for the time being.
 
Every hat is telling the stories of its past and present. That is the history of hats in China.
 
Hats exhibited here cover 16 categories of 23 ethnic groups of 56 Chinese nationalities, including Tibetan, Korean, Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Tartar, Hui, Hezhen, Oroqen, Bai, Derung, Yi, Miao, She, Buyei, Tujia, Gelao, Naxi, Yao and Dai nationalities. These hats are collected from a wide range of regions in northeast, northwest and southwest China, covering the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Xinjiang. They were made during four centuries from the Qing Dynasty to modern times.
 
Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Satchels of Chinese Ethnic Groups

Satchels are often used to carry small items. In the areas where ethnic groups inhabited, it alternatively named as Beidai (backpack), Kuadou, Guabao, Huabao, Nangdai, Tongpa, etc. It is used by both men and women. 
 
The use of satchels is another evidence of the human civilization. The history of satchels may be dated back to the beginning of primitive society. The earliest ones are sacks made of animal hides used to hold odds and ends. The invention of spinning brought us new materials such as silk and cotton cloth. As natural labor division, i.e., men work in the field and women work on the weaving, women and demonstrated great talent in spinning. Satchels varied in terms of feature and styles among ethnic groups, and became an object of sentimental values. They also reflect the culture and way of life in certain historical periods, a channel for women to tell their stories. The most unique ones are leathered sacks and water sacks made by the nomads and hunters using hides of their kills. The delicate satchels, made of bamboo, cane, birch, and even fish skin, perfectly embody the kind nature, diversified life, and great intelligence of Chinese people of all ethnic groups.
 
Satchels are indispensable utensils in daily life all the time, in all ethnic groups by people at different standings. One would carry his satchel to visit his friends and go to the market. A fine satchel can be dowry in wedding ceremony, or token of love. As important adornment indicating the aesthetic standards of a person, satchels also demonstrate the distinctive Chinese cultural value, the civilization development and innovation capability of the nation.
 
Displayed here are satchels from various ethnic groups from Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hunan, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Area, Tibet, Shanxi, Beijing and the North-east China. Most of items are made within the last 100 years.
Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Traditional Shoes of Chinese Ethnic Groups

Shoes are items worn for travel, and are indispensable in people’s daily life. Since ancient times, human beings started to use animal hide to cover their body and leaves to wrap their feet. The primitive form of shoes made of animal hides in China as long as 5,000 years ago, during the Yangshao Culture Period. Shoes were named as “Lu” in the Han Dynasty, and “Ju” in Qin Dynasty. In ancient China, shoes can be divided in to three categories according to their materials: cloth shoes, straw sandals and leather shoes. Cloth shoes are made of silk or linen; straw sandals are made from a plant called calamus, while leather shoes can be made of tanned animal hide or raw animal hide. The later one is also called “Geta”.
 
During the evolution of shoes, the esthetic value is more and more emphasized as equally important as the function. Shoes are crucial adornment that can add flavor to clothes. Depending on different geographic conditions, climate, ethnic culture, politics, economy and even people’s career, various kinds of shoes emerged in terms of style and form. Footwear culture developed for thousands years in China. Chinese ethnic groups have developed great variety of traditional shoes with intricate patterns and colorful decorations. Every pair of shoes is beautiful and attractive, demonstrating the talent of Chinese ethnic people and carrying sentimental values.
 
The double-nose cloth shoes with leather streaks of Man nationality, the leather boots of Mongolia nationality, the felt boots of Tibetan nationality, the sheep-pelt boots of Uygur nationality, the double-layer shoes of Tu nationality, the cloth rain-boots of Bai nationality, the Chaoxie of Dai nationality, the ingot-shaped shoes of Gelao nationality, the embroidery shoes, cotton shoes, sandals, and children shoes of Maonan nationality... There numerous kinds of shoes are telling the stories of people’s life in the past, at present and in the future.
 
According to the materials, shoes can be classified into leather shoes, cloth shoes, straw sandals, wooden shoes, bamboo shoes, and rubber shoes.
 

The traditional shoes of Chinese ethnic groups displayed here are collected from areas of Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Shanxi and Beijing. Most of them are made within the last 400 years, in the Qing Dynasty or in modern times.

Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Chinese folk arts on Belly-bib and Bib

In the daily life of Chinese people, belly-bib and bib are knitted thread by thread by mothers, wives or girls. They project the most sincere emotion of human being, tenderness of motherhood, and beauty of love into these small articles. The best human nature thus finds its way handed down to us. Greatness of women are also embodies therein.

Although these folk articles have a history of over several hundred years, you may still find each of them are touching. The “double phoenix” sewed on the crystal green or bright red belly-bib let you see image that a pretty girl stands near her bed with shy. The tiger head-shaped bib let you see a lively plump baby boy come to your embrace with his tender hands. The flower stewed on bibs for baby girls with feature and vivid petals, seemingly bringing people the smell of flowers and children at the breast. That is the everyday life of women.

Chinese women are so reserved and simple. But, their life made important part of the history, culture and the human legacy. That is the eternity of love and feeling.

All the items presented here are collected from Shanxi, Shan’xi, Guizhou, Northeast part of China and Beijing. Their history spans over four hundred years from Ming Dynasty to now.

The items displayed include belly-bibs and the mouth pads

Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Tools for Traditional Handcraft

The traditional handcrafts refer to cotton fluffing, iron forge, knife sharpening, porcelain mending, soybean cake making, oil painting, tile making and horseshoe mounting which are all closely related to daily life of people. These simple manual skills and tools faded out with the improvement of living conditions. They have unique cultural and scientific values. They are the witness of the development of human society. These are invaluable essence that deserved to be appreciated.

As an old saying goes, the mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen his tools. These simple and effective tool were developed by craftsmen in their working practice over the ages. For a long time, craftsmen used these tools to make or repair various living utensils. They brought enjoyment and happiness to Chinese masses and making these tools endeared to be accompany.

The tools presented here are collected from Sichuan, Hebei, Henan, Qinghai, Zhejiang, Shanxi, Beijing and other places, most of which have a history of up to 300 years from Qing Dynasty to the era of Republic of China.

The items displayed include following categories:

  • Wooden bow and wooden hammer for cotton fluffing
  • The burden and diamond drill for mending porcelain utensils
  • Ceramic roulette 
  • The board for making soybean cake
  • Tile mould
  • The sheep shearing scissors used by Yi
  • Oil painting tools
  • Carpenter’s pen
  • Wood scraping tool used by Korean
Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Gold Lotuses: Arch Shoes for Bound-feet

Foot-binding, a custom once practiced by Chinese women to demonstrate the charm and tenderness of female, was a product of “husband authority” in feudalism China, echoing the aesthetic standards at that time. This practice lasted for more than one thousand years in China, beginning in late Five Dynasties period, became widespread in South Song dynasty, and reached its climax in Ming and Qing dynasty. The ideal was “three-inch feet fit in gold lotuses”, a term coined in Yuan dynasty.

The Republic of China government tried to abolish foot-binding, which was fully abandoned after the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The exhibition of “Golden Lotuses” recurred to the unimaginable life of the Chinese women who practiced foot-binding, telling their tragic story in the feudalism era.

Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Exquisite Silver Ornaments

The ornaments made of silver by handcraft for decoration purpose are called silver ornaments in general terms. The Chinese silver ornaments displayed here are the most typical ones, including headwear, neckbands, bracelets, clothing ornaments, bonnet ornaments and waist ornaments.

The Chinese silverware and silver ornaments emerged first in Warring State Period and flourished in Tang dynasty. In Tang dynasty, the techniques were already highly sophisticated. The style was magnificent and graceful, and the themes were mainly plants, and sometimes birds and animals decorated with auspicious meaning. In Song and Yuan dynasties, silver ornaments, formally royal items, started to enter common households and become commercialized. In Ming and Qing dynasties, some other techniques were developed, such as techniques to inlay enamel, jewelry, and gem. In this period, the art of silver ornaments of China entered in a peak era, the techniques perfected, and Chinese silver works at that time was a great contribution to human civilization.

Those Chinese ornaments are no longer simply ornaments, but also symbol of Chinese culture, a testament for human civilization, and a showcase of the incredible traditional Chinese craftsmanship.

In the past, minority ethnic groups lived in mountainous areas that are scarcely populated. The wealth of an individual or a family could be showed only by valuable metals they owned, namely the “silver ornaments”. Even today, to dress up with all the fortune left by predecessors is a way of showing their best in the festivals. For example, the ornaments could weigh dozens of kilos when they are fully dressed up for Miao Ethnic Group in the mountains, Mongolians live on the field and Tibetans inhabited on the plateau. There is no wonder that all the shinning ornaments they are wearing are the asset they have retained for generations.

Most Chinese ethnic groups do not have characters to record their history and major events. However, such records were kept by “pattern carving”. Most ethnic groups worship ancestors, reproduction and the nature. As a result, their wishes for reproduction, good luck, elimination of danger as well as safety and happiness are all recorded in the forms of special patterns on the silver ornaments passed down by previous generations. Such patterns also become distinctive “silver ornament characters” that can differentiate one ethnic group from another.

In history, Yunnan Province in China was abundant with silver. As a result, ethnic groups in the adjacent areas such as Guizhou, Hunan and Guangxi have the tradition of wearing large-sized silver ornaments. Among them, Miao silver ornaments are the most famous. Miao silver ornaments have distinctive features showing their culture, history and folkways.

Miao silver ornaments have three features: large size, great weight and large amount. A full set of silver ornaments include over a hundred pieces of silverware, and the total weight may be dozens of kilos. Miao silver ornaments also surprised the world because of its advanced techniques, great varieties, and large amount of pieces in one set. The technique to forge Miao silver ornaments has been listed as the first series of National Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Our museum held more than 1,000 pieces of silver ornaments with unique shapes and excellence of workmanship from various ethnic groups. From large ones such as the phoenix coronet, silver clothes, silver horn and silver collar to smaller ones such as hairpins, rings, earnings, and silver clasps. Many of them are classical works in Ming and Qing dynasties. The items are collected from Beijing, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hunan, Shangxi, Shangdong, Shannxi, with a time span of more than 1,000 years.

 

Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

 

Needle and Its Companions

Needle and its companions, i.e., thimble, needle slot, awl, bobbin plate, scissors, needle stands, and a basket constitute the tool set for traditional needlework. As interdependent friends, they have been royal assistants of human beings from threading leather and bark clothes which helped people protect their body from cold and hotness. It is the means to making various clothes, accessories and consumables.

 

A bone needle of 8.2 cm in length was fond in the legacies of Beijing Upper Cave Man. They live in 18,000 years ago. The needle is the earliest and most primitive sewing tool ever found in the world. It’s the marks the start of ancient human civilization.    

In the Shang and Zhou Era, the bronze production and the metallurgy were developed. Fine metal needle was a breakthrough in Chinese sewing work. In Tang Dynasty, gold and silver accessories stood out. Needle and thread slot became practical utensils as well as decoration. Meanwhile, scissors, awl, thimble, bobbin plate, needle slot, sewing kit, and basket were improved and became a small family composed of series of manual sewing tools. In this family, sewing needle as a protagonist has kept evolving since ancient times. The tip and eye of the needle improved in terms of diameter and sharpness. However, its basic configuration, structure and functions remain unchanged. The only change may come from the manufacturing of sewing needles which has evolved from manual forging to fine mechanical manufacturing. Today, needle and its friends are all most remembered in an image with the bitter and sweet emotion that mothers in grey hair was holding the thread and needles to make shoes.

The needle and its companions presented here are collected from Gansu, Shanxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, Shandong, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Beijing. Their history spans over 5000 years from Neolithic Period, Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty and modern time.

Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

The Pillow Tips

Chinese traditional pillow is usually a solid rectangle block, or sometimes in a shape of flat square, a circular cylinder or one of the twelve-animal signs in symbolic system of Shenxiao. The two ends of the pillow are also called “pillow tips”.

Pillow tips are the major part of decoration. The pattern on the pillow tips is usually embroidery with fine needlework and diversity in design. Therefore, embroidery on pillow tips is well-known handcraft. Originated from the culture of the Han nationality, embroidery on pillow tips was developed by women in the central China. Nowadays, it is regarded as one of the classics of Chinese folk embroidery of all nationalities.

The top four embroidery styles of pillow tips are from the area of Jiangsu, Guangdong, Hunan and Sichuan. Some minority groups have their style, i.e. Hui, Tibetan, Tu and Man. The embroidery is extremely rich in pattern design, with inspiration from mountains, rivers, flowers, birds, fish, insects, fruit, vegetables, utensils, buildings, numbers, characters, geometric drawings, historical romances, legends and dramas.

Every pattern implies certain cultural connotation, and every such connotation embodies good fortune. The implicit meaning of pattern design is a manifestation of Chinese traditional culture and custom. It is the Chinese way of praying for good fortune, and the expression of people’s aspiration for happiness.

Pillows are close company for people during their lifetime. They are the witness of their owners’ life, including birth, growth, marriage and even death.

Chinese women of all nationalities embroider those delicate and beautiful patterns on pillow tips and then knit them into pillows with their deft fingers and refined feelings. Therefore, those pillows are the embodiment of warmth and love of family.

The embroidered pieces exhibited here are collected from the areas of Shanxi, Qinghai, Hebei, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Beijing. They were made in different time, from Ming Dynasty to modern times. Some items may be dated back for 500 years.

Location: 1st floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Traditional Chinese Tea Set and Tea Culture

The tea set refers to the tools used in tea making and tea drinking.

China is home to tea. The tea encompasses a history span of 5,000 to 6,000 years from primary use as medicine to drinks in West Han. With the changes of tea making come the changes in tea set which evolved from primitive earth pot, pottery pot, jar to cup after up to 600 years’ development. Tea culture arising out of this evolution has become the essence of tea art as well as the etiquette and custom of Chinese nationalities. There for, tea is a major component and medium of Chinese culture, playing an important role in hand down social morality, expressing culture heritage and promoting social progress. It is now a drink of Chinese nation.

Perfect tea making tools is able to preserving the freshness and excellence of tea soup. Tea drinking and tea drinking set vary from place to place and people to people. In ethnic minorities-populated regions, there are still some local made unique tea sets. They made of bamboo, wood, clay, copper, iron and lacquer. Tea set is divided into water boiler, tea storage set, tea service set, container and tea maker.

The tea sets hereby presented are collected from places of Yunnan, Tibet, Jiangxi, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia and boast a history of about 400 years from Qing Dynasty to now.

The items displayed include: Water boiler, tea service set, container, tea brewing tray, tea cup, konfu tea set, tea storage set.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Eight Hair Ornaments

Hair ornaments generally refer to ornaments designed to hold it in place of certain style. The eight ornaments in ancient China are Ji, Zan, Chai, Buyao, Bianfang, Shubi, Crown and Sheng.

Ancient hair ornaments were mainly used to worship and status identification. Initially they were used both by men and women and later evolved to practical ornaments of hair style for women. Hair ornaments are often made of rare materials with beautiful patterns or three-dimensional figures. These decorations are usually worn on prominent positions after hair combing to polish and express feelings or best wishes through objects.

Apart from the eight ornaments, hair ornaments vary in era, geography and nation. Nowadays, the functions to show beauty and elegance remains. Less extravagant than their ancient counterparts, modern hair ornaments boast profound culture that takes on a fresh and fashionable look. The hair decoration culture is just an epitome of aesthetic value for several thousand years.

Hair ornaments presented here are collected from Beijing, Shanxi, Guizhou, Guangxi, Zhejiang and Shanxi in a time span of 5000 years from Neolithic Age to modern times.

The items displayed include: Ji, zan (or zanzi), chai, bianfang, shubi, crown and sheng.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Chinese Folk Arts and Crafts of Powder Puff and Earmuff

Powder puff and earmuff are sewn stitch by stitch in Chinese daily life. They witness the dedication of mothers, wives or girls who have woven all their love into these articles, making the best nature of human beings evolve today and that is the part of great contribution of women.
 

Notwithstanding several hundred years for these articles hereby presented, you may still be touched by each one of them. The small and delicate powder puff is like a tender woman who puts red powder on her face sitting in front of a mirror. The blue earmuff adds the brilliant and elegancy to their husbands while warming their ears. Aren’t they the live of the women’s daily life and the days in the history?

Chinese women are so reserved and simple that they translate their daily life into history and culture and ultimately the human legacy. This is nothing but the perpetuity of their love.

The earmuff and powder puff presented here are collected from places such as Shanxi, Shan’xi, Guizhou, the Northeast of China and Beijing and boast a history of over four hundred years from Ming Dynasty to modern times.

The items displayed include embroidered powder puff and earmuff.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

 

 

Bow, Crossbows and Arrows – the weapons for Chinese minority groups

Ancient Chinese weapons mainly comprise halberd, giant axe, axe, bow, crossbow, arrow, knife, fork and sword. The bow, crossbow, sword and spear constitute the major category of the weapons used by Chinese minority. Weapons spanned at least 10,000 years and evolved with social development. Many ethnic minorities lived in remote mountains or deserts. The stress of their living environment and production capability resulted in the limited weapons available. The bow, crossbow, arrow, spear and chopper were used as weapons and production tools as well. They became people’s partner and symbolized power.

The integration of weapons into the life of minority community has also derived accessories, decorations and rich culture and customs in regard of bow, crossbows and arrows. The weapons are cultural identity of the minority groups. Mongolian bow, Jingpo knife, Va dart, Nu crossbow, Tibetan leather armor and the spear used by Yi all represent the pride and power of a minority group.

The minority weapons presented here are collected from Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Yunan, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Guizhou, Beijing and Taiwan. They span approximately 4,000 years from Neolithic Age to modern era.

The item displayed include: Oroqen Arrow, bone arrow head, crossbow, arrow box, arrow bag used by Nu, spear, fork, armor, Tibetan hauberk, helmet, firelock used by Tu and gunpowder tube used by Miao.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park
 

Chinese Smoking Set, Opium Smoking Set and Cigarette Smoking Set

Chinese smoking set, opium smoking set and cigarette smoking set, as three major members of traditional Chinese smoking set family, are branded with cultural features of different era and have changed with the use of different breeds of products. They also represent a smoking culture brought on by the integration of social life, economic status, folklores and aesthetic concept of different ethnic minorities.

The mass production of tobacco in China can be dated back to the reign of Wanli, Ming Dynasty. It has a span of 400 years to date. It has been cherished by people for its simple method and the subtle functions associated with it.

Chinese smoking set is the most traditional and widespread smoking set comprising stem, pouch, long pipe and short pipe.

Opium smoking set is a general term for smoking tools, which includes the pipe, lantern lighter, stick, case and tray.

The tobacco roll wrapped by paper is called cigarette. The smoking sets for cigarette comprise the tobacco roller, tobacco case, lighter and ash tray.

Traditional Chinese smoking sets are tailor-made and uniquely designed in terms of the material, style, quality and other local features.

Pipes and accessories hereby presented are collected from the provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Shan’xi, Shanxi, The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Area and also from the city of Beijing. They cover a span of approximately four hundred years from Qing Dynasty to modern times.

The items displayed include: Mongolia style smoking pipe, Miao silver carved smoking pipe, tobacco pouch, antelope shank tobacco pipe, Tibetan snake head-shaped smoking pipe, pottery bowl, tobacco pipe that made of purple bamboo or mottled bamboo, stone tobacco pipe, bamboo water pipe, bamboo root tobacco pipe, tobacco case, steel for flint, leather mould tobacco case with lacquer coat, leather tobacco pouch, bib style tobacco pouch, steel and tinker with double bamboo pipe, leather cut tobacco case , opium pipe with silver relief, cupronickel opium smoking lantern with through-carved flower, tobacco bowl, copper opium case, Tibetan silver opium case, opium tray, cigarette holder, ivory cigarette holder and copper match box.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Traditional Drink Sets of Chinese Ethnic Minorities

Drink sets are designed for drink storage and drinking. They are the most primitive embodiment of China Alcoholic Beverage Cultures. Given the long history of drink making, drink sets are the mainstay of China Alcoholic Beverage Cultures and also the product of social and economic development. In other words, drink sets are reflections of social and economic changes.

The production of traditional drink utensils is splendid since the braze ware developed in Shang Dynasty and became most prosperous in Tang Dynasty. The drink utensils include three major types for the different usage, namely, the drink tank, the drink container and the drink set.

Drink tank boasts a big capacity. It is designed to store the drink. Drink container is served as container, spool, and drink heater. While the drink sets were facilitates transferring artistic appreciations as well as drinking tools. At times of drinking, people can immerse themselves in wine culture. The drink sets also helps keep people from overdrinking. They are all made with certain capacity to avoid overdrinking. There is another function for drink sets that shows social etiquette. As carrier of social etiquette, drink sets indicate different ethnic nationality and hierarchy in different era.

Drink sets hereby presented are locally made. They are sophisticated and boast rich ethnic and local drink culture which has become part of Chinese traditional culture.

All the drink sets preserved in our institute are collected from Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Jiangzhe, Shanxi, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Beijing. They have a history of over 500 years from Ming and Qing Dynasty to now.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park
 

 

 

Traditional Chinese Chopstick Cage

Chopstick cage, also known as chopstick tube, is designed to store chopsticks. China is the birthplace of chopstick. Chopstick is unique tableware worldwide and is the mascot of the fu (or luck) culture. Chopstick, or kuaizi, literally means that give birth as soon as possible. That’s why chopsticks have been endowed with the great reputation “One Hundred Son Chopstick Tube” and symbolize the availability of countless descendants and longevity.

Small as it is, chopstick cage is a necessity in each of Chinese families. It witnesses daily meals and embodies family feelings and spirit of all generations. Chopstick cage, small and unattractive, becomes something that is made by the owner of a family and records a family’s history.

Chopstick cages are mainly made of bamboo, wood, ceramic tile and pottery and categorized into desktop and hanging. It comprises cage wall, cage base and cage feet. Cage wall is usually carved with flowers or equipped with air vents. There is a leaking hole at the bottom of the cage that keeps chopsticks dry and clean.

Chopstick cages presented here comes from Hebei, Henan, Jinagxi, Beijing and northeast of China and span approximately two hundred years from late Qing Dynasty to the modern era.

The items displayed here include: Ceramic tile chopstick cage, bamboo chopstick cage, Korean ceramic chopstick cage, blue and white porcelain chopstick cage, lucky character chopstick cage, pavilion shaped chopstick cage and chopstick cage with birthday peach pattern.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park
 

Mud Whistle: a toy for the folks

Mud whistle, also named nijiaojiao, ninigou, xiaonijiao and guguchong, is a toy for children that made of clay and mud. Most of them were made in a shape of colorful animal. There are pores for blowing air in and out respectively or a tube inserted with a tiny sound generation device.

The mud whistles are usually have a shape of monkey, dog, cow, horse, pig, chicken, pigeon, eagle, fish, turtle, frog, boy or baby girl.

The process of making a mud whistle is normally comprises soil drying, stirring, modelling, drying, painting, glazing and firing kiln.

Mud whistle is rooted in the life of folks and reveals the local culture of different regions. They are simple and elegant, vivid and colorful. The varieties are according to the location of make. There are some well known styles named after the name of place, e.g., Huang Ping, Huaiyang, Tongren, Yuhuazhai and Taiwan.

Mud whistles presented here are collected from Guizhou, Henan, Shanxi, Beijing and Taiwan. They were made in modern era.

The items displayed here include: Huangping mud whistle, Huaiyang mud whistle, Taiwan Jiaozhi pottery mud whistle, Tongren mud whistle and Yuhuazhai mud whistle.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

The Traditional Utensils for Water Pipe Smoking and Snuffing

The utensils for water pipe smoking and snuffing are major types of traditional smoking sets in different cultural era. They have their life cycle depending on the type of tobacco consumed. They also represent a tobacco culture brought on by the integration of social life, economic status, folklores and aesthetic concept of different ethnic groups of China.

The water pipe can filter the smoke to remove the impurity substance in the smoke and reduce intensity of fire and make smoking more moderate. Smoking with a water pipe is a traditional and most reasonable means of smoking. The water pipe is graced with the shapes of linear and curvy. It composed of tobacco store, container and stem.

The process of snuffing is to inhale aroma and chilly smoke from snuff powder burning in fire. Snuff bottle is a typical tool. Snuffing was the favorite of Royal Family of Qing Dynasty and ethnic groups of Man, Mongolia and Tibetan. Snuff bottle, an embodiment of traditional Chinese workmanship and traditional culture, integrates fine arts of carving, studding, painting, calligraphy, jade, porcelain, enamel and metal. It has gone beyond its practical value to be the representative of Qing culture.

Exhibits hereby presented are collected from places of Yunnan, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Beijing and boast a span of approximately 400 years.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Traditional Locks

The lock (suo in Mandarin) is a device that holds a desired space. It consists of three basic parts: the body, bolt and key. It’s mainly used to lock doors, cabinets, chests, boxes, drawers, torture instruments, etc. The lock is operated by a key or combination code. Locks play the role to “constrain” in human society, and are largely used for security purposes.

The history of locks in China originated from the Yangshao Culture over 5,000 years ago. The wooden locks on wooden architectures are claimed to be the oldest lock in human history. Metal locks made of bronze with a simple pin mechanism were invented in the Han dynasty. Iron locks were widely used in the Song dynasty. By the Ming and Qing dynasties, copper locks with sophisticated pin mechanism became a family utensil and all types of locks made of different materials were developed. The traditional locks were replaced by the cylindrical locks using hollowing coding in the mid of 1950s.

The traditional Chinese locks fall into two major categories in terms of material, wooden or metal and in terms mechanism, hollowing coding and combination coding. The former can be divided as guang, huaqi, jewelry and torture instrument locks, whilst the latter is also called the coded lock.

Rusty and weathered as they are, traditional Chinese locks as a daily necessity in the ancient life of the Chinese still retain the messages from their times long gone, a fascinating portrait of the economic development and social customs. It is a precious part of the memory of the Chinese civilization.

The items we presented here covers a wide range of the object, i.e., wooden, guang, huaqi and jewelry locks from the Ming dynasty to the 20th century, for a time span of more than 500 years. The items were collected from areas or provinces of Beijing, Yunnan, Zhejiang, Henan, Heilongjiang and Xinjiang.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park
 

Wen-fang-si-bao: The four treasures of the study

The word "wenfang" can date back to South and North Dynasty (386-589 AD) period and refers to the study room. The stationeries in the study room initially comprised writing brush, ink-stick, paper and ink-slab, and the word "wen-fang-si-bao" became a general term for the tools used in the study. The brush made in Huzhou (so called Hubi), the ink-stick made in Huizhou (so called Huimo), the ink-slab made in Duanzhou (so called Duanyan) and the paper made in Xuanzhou (so called Xuanzhi) are top-grade collection among the four treasures of the study.

Apart from the four treasures of the study, there are other complementary tools such as brush pot, brush hanger (rack), brush washer, ink-slab base, ink box, paper weight, water pot, bailer, water feeder, ink-slab case, ink-slab screen, arm pad, seal case and seal. Small and light as they are, they embody the Chinese culture and the dedication of the craftsmen over thousand years of history. They become the tools of the Chinese intellects, their pursuit for knowledge and their company as well as the symbol for upbringing and culture.

Wenfangsibao, the four treasures of the study, are unique and traditional tools as well as the spiritual carrier of Chinese culture. In the splendid culture of Chinese history, these treasures helped people record the Chinese civilization, depict the colorful life and leave behind unprecedented poets and paintings handed on from age to age.

The four treasures of the study hereby presented are collected from Anhui, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Hebei, Shanxi and Beijing and have a time span of about 5 hundred years, dating back to Qing Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and modern times.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park

Three Traditional Chinese Ethnic Swords: Achang swords, Yingjisha knives and Bonan swords

Ethnic sword (the word DAO in Chinese is a general term for sword and knife in English) refer to instruments or tools hand-made by traditional-style forging and quenching and used for cutting, slicing, slashing, chopping and paring. Most of swords are made of iron and steel. They are usually decorated with silver, copper, jewels, animal bones, bullhorns, shark skins and glass. The major application of ethnic sword is used for fighting. The swords consist of the blade, the hilt and the scabbard. They fall into two major categories – dao (broadsword) and jian (straight sword). Dao is also called danrendao (single-edged) in Chinese. It has a blade short in length and slightly bent with a sharp pointy tip. Jian is also called shuangrendao (duble -edged) in Chinese. It has two long, thin and straight blades with a ridge between the blades.

Chinese swords have a time-honored history dating back to the Bronze Age in Shang and Zhou dynasties over 3,000 years ago. At first they were used only in rituals as symbols of power and status. But they gradually became portable weapons for the carriers to guard and defend themselves. By the Ming dynasty, yaodao (waist dao) had become a major weaponry choice, which was further popularized as a common weapon in the Qing dynasty. On the other hand, jian gradually faded out of people’s daily lives.

Over thousands of years, swords developed large families of different designs and sects, all symbolic of their local cultures. Outstanding forging techniques would often blossom into a self-contained philosophy and culture closely interleaved with the local economy and social customs. This can be clearly seen in the fact that the Achang, Yingjisha and Baoan are claimed as the three major ethnic sword styles in China.

Our collections of the three ethnic sword sects and their sub-branch, namely, Yushu Tibetan sword and Mongolian sword were developed under their influence and covered a wide range of delicate designs and perfect craftsmanship. Mostly from the Qing dynasty and the Republic of China period, they were collected from Yunnan, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Gansu and Beijing over the time span of 300 years.

Location: 2nd floor, Bai Branch Museum, South Park