Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA)

Established in 1962, HKMoA is the first public art museum in the city, now custodian of an art collection of over 17,000 items, representing the unique cultural legacy of Hong Kong's connection across the globe. By curating a wide world of contrasts, from old to new, Chinese to Western, local to international, with a Hong Kong viewpoint, we aspire to refreshing ways of looking at tradition and making art relevant to everyone, creating new experiences and understanding.

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Resources from Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA)


Object
Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA)

Bright yellow dragon robe with the twelve imperial symbols

This bright-yellow dragon robe has a round collar, overlapping lapel and horse-hoof cuffs. The robe is embroidered with three dragons on the chest and at the back – one front-facing, and two in profile. In addition, there are two front-facing dragons on either shoulder, and one on the inner facing which only becomes visible when the lapel is turned down. Therefore it makes a total of nine dragons on one robe, with five always in view from whatever angle. This is an indication of the Emperor's status as the "Son of Heaven". A dragon robe of this design is the emperor's formal attire for rituals and ceremonies. The Twelve Imperial Symbols are unique to dragon robes worn by the Qing emperors. They symbolize a ruler's power and embodiment of the highest virtues. The twelve symbols are: the Sun, representing the illumination of the myriad things; the Moon, representing yin-yang balance; a constellation of Stars, representing harmony with the heavenly laws; mountains, representing steadfastness; dragon patterns, representing deft adaptation to change; the huachong pheasant standing on one leg, representing impressive literary cultivation; a pair of yi libation cups meant for ancestral worship, representing loyalty and filial piety, wisdom and courage; water weed, representing purity and cleanness; flame, representing brightness; millet, representing material plenitude; a sacrificial axe, representing decisive and acute judgment; and a fu symbol, representing the ability to distinguish clearly between right and wrong. Since the Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE), there had been multiple interpretations of the twelve symbols, but generally speaking they were thought to signify the worship of Heaven, glorification of ancestors, making-manifest of ritual propriety, and veneration of morality.
Object
Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA)

Tomb Guardian in Sancai Glaze

Developed from the low-fired lead glazes of the Han dynasty, sancai, or three-colour, wares were a new type of ceramics that appeared during the Tang dynasty and were intended for use as burial objects. Two or more metal oxides, such as copper, iron and cobalt, were used as colorants in a lead glaze fired at a low temperature of 800°C, a process that produced different tones of yellow, green, blue, brown, purple and black. The beauty of these glazes lay in their high fluidity, which allowed them to flow down and into each other to create striking gradations of tone and pattern. The wide range of sancai wares, which have predominantly been found in areas around Xi'an and Luoyang, capital cities during the Tang period, includes utensils, animals, figurines and even architectural models, all of which reflect the customs and beliefs of the Tang nobility. One such practice that was common among Tang nobles was to protect their tombs with tomb guardians. These fearsome looking creations were usually placed near the entrance or at the four corners of the tomb chamber, from where they could drive away evil spirits. Crouching on an openwork pedestal, this tomb guardian presents a ferocious picture with its impressive horns, staring eyes and full beard, the sharp fangs emerging from its large mouth, the pair of wings stretching out from its shoulders, and its long, hoofed forelegs. The figure is richly covered with yellow, green and creamy white glazes that intermingle on the body.
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