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Utility as Essence, Simple and Elegant: The Aesthetics of Traditional Chinese Utensils Design

Chinese Journal of Literary Criticism

No.3, 2018 

 

Utility as Essence, Simple and Elegant: The Aesthetics of Traditional Chinese Utensils Design

(Abstract)

 

Liang Mei

 

Chinese utensils manufacture is an important part of Chinese civilization. It has a long history and has achieved great success in craftsmanship and aesthetics. The aesthetics of traditional utensils is based on Chinese philosophy. Chinese culture, represented by Confucianism and Taoism, emphasizes the usefulness of manufacture and design, and advocates for simplicity as the highest realm of beauty and against abundant decoration. Affected by Chinese aesthetic culture, “skillful” (qiao) and “exquisite” (miao) were important in utensil making in the past, when dealing with materials processing and solving design problems. “Qiao” means leaning from the marvelous form of nature, and “miao” refers to the perfection of materials and crafts.The design philosophy is the combination of “tian gongwork of nature” and “ren gongwork of man,” materials and skills, which has contributed to the accentuation of valuing non-decoration, following the property of materials and the law of nature, applying craftsman’s creation along with the quality of materials in the utensil making process. The aesthetic features of traditional Chinese utensils are implicit and elegant. Excellent design emphasizes implication and verve, and making people feel visually intrigued.