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On “Tao” (the Way) and “Qi” (Artifact) and the Aesthetic Thoughts of Ancient Chinese Utensils

Chinese Journal of Literary Criticism

No.3, 2018 

 

On “Tao” (the Way) and “Qi” (Artifact) and the Aesthetic Thoughts of Ancient Chinese Utensils

(Abstract)

 

Li Longsheng

 

Taothe Way refers to an invisible, abstract, essential spiritual idea and thought; “qiartifact of utensils is a tangible, figurative, sensual manmade object. The relationship between the two constitutes  the core category of the aesthetics of ancient Chinese utensils, which is recapitulated as “the Way carried by artifacts.” Ideas such as “the Way before artifact” (dao zai qi xian), “Tao incarnated in artifact” (tao zai qi zhong) and “artifact is all” (tianxia wei qi) all examine the relationship between the Way and artifact in the practice of utensil making. The significance of the relationship lies in revealing the Way via artifact, and feeling the designers’ aesthetic pursuit in utensils. As the creation of human beings, utensils not only conform to the law of nature and carry the Way of human society, but also reflect the essence of life in the harmonious creation of utensils and human feelings.