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Regong Art

Regong Art
Originating in the Longwuhe River (lóng wù hé 隆务河) Valley of Qinghai Province which belongs to Tongren County (tóng rén xiàn 同仁县) of the Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (huáng nán zàng zú zì zhì zhōu 黄南藏族自治州), Regong art (rè gòng yì shù 热贡艺术) is a successful mix of religious art by Tibetan and Tu ethnic minorities and local folk arts. To better protect the art, it was included in the second phase of the National Folk Culture Protection Project in April 2004. As an important genre in Tibetan Buddhism, the art has a history of more than 700 years. It is called “the flower on the Tibetan Plateau” and “a magnificent pearl of Chinese art”.


Overview


Regong ArtRegong art includes paintings (murals and scrolls called "thangka" in Tibetan), clay and wooden sculptures, barbola, color paintings on buildings, patterns, butter sculptures, and so on. Among these, the paintings, sculptures and designs are most famous. The contents of Regong art ranges from the story of the Sakyamuni, Bodhisattvas, Buddhist guardians and fairies, to Buddhist stories.


History

The period from the 10th century to the 13th century was the late development period of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as a transferring period for the art of Tibetan Buddhism, which was also a time when Regong Art was born. During this time, Tibetan Buddhism was already widely accepted by people. Thus, being a tool to deliver the sermon, the art of Tibetan Buddhism had begun to change itself from foreign style to the style answering to the appreciation of the beauty of the nation.

History of Regong ArtRegong Art culture also originated in Tibet which is the center of the snowy region, but mainly has three aspects of sources: First, possession of Lado's annual co-sharp intellectual measures three brothers studied painting in Nepal and then to settle in Amdo Regong spread Buddhism painting art; Second, in four or five centuries Sa Ying-chi together to send their disciples that wow Regong regional spread of Buddhism in the painting art; third, sang in 1710, when Russia's Labrang Monastery was built-pei, his mantang sent painting Regong transmission areas, so the different sources made Yuan Regong Art painters have their own characteristics. Regong Art is walking to the world.

Early Regong Art artisans traveled to many different regions such as Qinghai Province, Tibetan Autonomous Region, Gansu Province, Sichuan Province, the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region and other places in China, as well as India, Nepal, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries in the world to create art works, leaving behind numerous exquisite art works. They assimilated artistic nourishment from Tibetan paintings, Dunhuang murals and foreign similar works and then combined them with local folk arts of Qinghai Province to gradually consummate the techniques of Regong Art.

History of Regong ArtIn its development of hundreds of years, Regong Art is becoming a unique folk art. It features in accurate and vivid characters, beautiful and delicate drawing, gorgeous and decorative colors, fully displaying the rhythmic, moving and stereoscopic sensation of the lines. It also maintains the perfection with the whole. The modest style of painting, clear and harmonious color set and life-like portraying shows the excellent culture created by Tibetan people, which is an important treasure of art among Chinese heritages. Many Regong Art works have been exhibited in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tibet, Gansu, Qinghai and other cities, achieving thorough success and high appreciation. Tibetan Buddhism art brings new spirit to the age-old culture and art of China. Regong Art is just an exotic flower in this garden of culture. The artists show their understanding of life through wonderful culture of art and historical traces of hundreds of years, which is the result of the communication between different Tibetan areas and between Tibetan and Han Nation. It has undergone declining and flourishing, however, it has great future. Surely Regong Art will absorb the essence from so many forms of arts of different nations and never stop innovating to yield unusually brilliant results.


Characteristics of Regong Art

In the early period, Regong art works were crude and unsophisticated with monotone colors, featuring typical Indian and Nepalese styles. In the mid-17th century, artisans mastered better techniques and the painting styles became more elegant and exquisite; they also paid more attention to decorative effects in their works. Thus, the art entered a prosperous period of development.

After the 19th century, Regong artworks featured beautiful colors and an exquisite touch. The artisans of this period paid special attention to the decorative interest in their works and employed a great amount of gold to make the works resplendent and magnificent, creating an ardent atmosphere. The works not only look harmonious in their arrangement of different subjects but are also lifelike and lively, displaying outstanding artistic effects.

Characteristics of Regong artOver the past several centuries, Regong art artisans traveled to many different regions to create different works, such as Qinghai Province, Tibetan Autonomous Region, Gansu Province, Sichuan Province, the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region and other places in China, as well as India, Nepal, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries in the world, leaving behind numerous exquisite art works. They assimilated artistic nourishment from Tibetan paintings, Dunhuang murals and foreign similar works and then combined them with local folk arts of Qinghai Province to gradually consummate the techniques of Regong art. The unpretentious painting style, even and harmonious color arrangements and realism of Regong artworks fully reflect Tibetan culture, making the art a curiosity hard to come by in China's cultural heritage.


Major Types of Regong Art

Barbola

Barbola
Barbola (duī xiù 堆绣) is a special art that employs the techniques of “cutting” and “piling” to portray objects. In terms of specific techniques, barbola can be subcategorized into “jian dui” (literally, to “cut and pile”) and “ci xiu” (embroidery). The barbola works in Regong are mainly of the jian dui style. To make jian dui barbola, artisans select silks and satins of different colors according to type of expression desired, cut them into human, animal, flower and bird shapes of a certain size, and then paste the patterns onto the pre-cut paper models. After that, they are stacked from dense to light colors. Since the middle of the barbola is slightly convex, the work creates a strong three-dimensional effect that looks like a colored embossment made of silk material. Barbola subjects generally come from Buddhist stories, and most of them are about people. Barbola pays much attention to posture and the details of human figures, and values the arrangement of silks and satins of different colors. It features an exquisite touch amid roughness, gives prominence to its major subjects, has vivid colors and forms a strong contrast. Barbola is an innovation in embroidery art, combining embroidery and embossment.


Sculpture

Sculpture, which holds an important position among Regong art, mainly includes clay sculpture, wood carving, brick engraving and so on, where clay sculpture is the most popular. The art of clay sculptures had matured from the mid-17th century to the early 19th century when the sculptures were exquisitely carved and were lifelike, with smooth clothing lines, a sense of reality and a strong contrast in colors that were arranged harmoniously.

Clay sculptureThe clay sculptures in Regong were combined with temple architecture to express the wide-ranging contents related to the architecture. The range of subjects is also very wide. Besides the sun, moon and stars, mountains, flowers and trees, birds, beasts, fishes and worms and other patterns used as decorations and foils, different colors and other various images also appear in sculptures. These include the bizarre motley Buddhist guardians, Buddha's warrior attendants with horrifying features, horse-headed and red-haired gods, and so on.

In addition, woodcarving and brick engraving can also be found in many places. Woodcarving is mainly employed to make decorative patterns on door lintels and chapiters of a house, as well as wooden josses. Brick carving is mainly seen in such forms of architecture, as decorative patterns, dragons and phoenixes and pairs of lions on the ridge of a house, beasts on flying roofs and basso reliefs on walls.


Thangka

ThangkaThangka (táng  kǎ 唐卡), a kind of religionary scroll painting framed in cloth or silk with various religious functions, is regarded as a masterpiece of Tibetan culture. As one of the forms of Regong art, it is widely used in palaces, monasteries and temples in Tibet, bearing the features of Tibetan religion, folk custom and culture. Nowadays, Thangka has become a hot cultural as well as religionary collection around the world. With years-long history, the skill and secret of making Thangka has been passing down by generations, and even become more eximious. People who are engaged in making Thangka range from the youth to the elder and it is nowadays having a tendency to involve more young people.


Magnificent Spectacle of Color Paintings About Chinese Tibetan Culture and Arts

Planned and designed by famous painter Zongzhe Lajie (zōng zhě lā jié 宗者拉杰) and jointly painted by about 400 artists, Magnificent Spectacle of Color Paintings About Chinese Tibetan Culture and Arts (zhōng guó zàng zú wén huà yì shù cǎi huì dà guān 中国藏族文化艺术彩绘大观) was completed in August 1999 after four years of painstaking efforts.

Magnificent Spectacle of Color Paintings About Chinese Tibetan Culture and ArtsWith a length of 618 meters and a width of 2.5 meters, it is the longest painting scroll in the world. The whole scroll covers more than 1,500 square meters and weighs over 1,000 kilograms. Its contents involve the history, culture, folk customs and arts of the Tibetan ethnic minority, including the formation of the world, the origin of the Tibetan ethnic minority, past Tibetan kings, the story of Sakyamuni, different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, historical celebrities, medicine, astronomy, literature, architecture, as well as scenic spots and historical sites in Tibet, festival scenes, costumes, articles for daily use, weapons, decorative patterns, and so on. Thus, it can be regarded as the encyclopedia of Tibetan history and culture. All of the pigments used to paint the scroll come from the nature, such as the mineral pigment made from gold, silver, coral, agate, pearl and diamond, and plant pigments made from saffron, madder and rhubarb.

Inheriting the techniques of traditional Tibetan paintings, the work also assimilates the skills used in western paintings, bringing viewers a new and fresh aesthetic experience. The whole scroll features an exquisite touch and depicts many lifelike human figures. The densest places on the scroll contain more than 300 human figures or 30 palace rooms per square meter -- that's more than 2,480 mural images on each square inch, which can only be achieved using a brush with a neb of a single hair. Many subminiature images can only be detected with the help of a magnifying glass.

After its completion in August 1999, the scroll made its debut in the Longxing area of Huangnan Prefecture in Gansu Province from September 30-October 4 that year. In the same year, the work won the “Record of the Great World Genesis”.

June Festival of Regong

The word "Regong" is a Tibetan name of a place, meaning golden valley. It is located in Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. The June Festival (liù yuè huì 六月会) is a large-scale sacrificial performance activity prevailing among Tibetan and Tu people. Popular in Tongren County, the festival is held annually between June 17 and 25 of the lunar calendar. This is the best season on the plateau, as the flowers are in full blossom, the herbage is luxuriant, and the wheat and corn are ready for the coming harvest.

June Festival of RegongThe Regong June Festival is a traditional cultural festival in Tibetan and Tu villages in Tongren County. It has existed for more than 1400 years. Every year in the sixth month of the lunar calendar, folk sacrificing activities will be held in Tibetan and Tu villages in Regong area. This is a humane phenomenon that presents a strong primitive religious atmosphere, and complex and rich cultural patterns and connotations. The festival includes contents like offering sacrifices to deities, inviting deities, welcoming deities, dancing for deities, bowing to deities, praying, sending deities off, military dancing performance, divine dancing performance, and dragon dancing performance. It is a grand religious festival of both Tibetan and Tu people in Regong region. In such a magnificent festival, dancing has always played a supportive role.


Meaning of Heritage

With its delicate design, gorgeous colors and smooth lines, Regong Art is not only popular in areas where Buddhism is prevailing, but also getting more and more popularity among fans all over Hong Kong, Macaw, Taiwan regions and other countries in the world. It’s becoming prosperous in the recent 10 years. However, while old artisans have passed away, market economy and commercial realization is charging and the tourist industry is getting more and more prosperous, excellent Regong Art works is becoming less and less. The market is filled with counterfeits and copies. Regong Art needs to be saved and protected badly. 


Economic Value of Regong Art

As the nation’s historic and cultural city, Tongren came up with the idea of combining culture and economy to develop both fields. It considers Regong art as a top resource to promote its Economic Value of Regong Arttourism and expand publicity efforts to boost its fame. Every year, more than 3,000 tourists from different countries come to Tongren to appreciate Regong art and many travel from Taiwan and Hong Kong regions for the same purpose. Meanwhile, to maximize the local economy, Tongren set up the Regong Art Association to ensure the orderly and healthy development of Regong artwork markets.

It is reported that in Upper Wutun Village more than 90 percent of adult men and many women have mastered the skills of making thangka and sculptures. As a result, many of them are invited to Inner Mongolia, Sichuan, Zhejiang, Tibet and Gansu to create painting and sculptures while others stay behind to produce them at home. Each year the per-capita income of people in the village exceeds CNY 2,500, with more than 80 percent coming from Regong art works. Rough statistics show that in Tongren County the annual revenue from Regong art reaches more than 36 million yuan, accounting for 2.1 percent of the total.


Location: In Tongren Country, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Tel: 0973-8795000 or 0973-8795001
Transportation: Take the coach of Xining to Tongren at Xining coach station.
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00

Admission Fee of scenic spots

Longwu Temple (lóng wù sì0 隆务寺): CNY 55
Wutunxia Temple (wú tún xià sì 吾屯下寺): CNY 30
Guomari Temple (guō má rì sì 郭麻日寺): CNY 30
Regong Painting Academy (rè gòng huà yuàn 热贡画院): CNY 15
National Museum of Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (huáng nán zhōu mín  zú bó  wù guǎn 黄南州民族博物馆): CNY 15

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 18:40
 

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