Chongqing- On March 30, a new sculpture gallery opened at Chongqing Bayu Folk-Custom Museum in Yubei District. It is under the theme of “72 traditional occupations in the regions of Ba and Shu”. Covering an area of about 700 square meters, the gallery exhibits, in the form of sculpture, figures engaging in typical traditional occupations in Ba and Shu’s regions from the late Qing Dynasty to the early 20th century. There are 108 figures and objects in 79 groups. They are divided into four parts, namely “urban and rural workers,” “skilled craftsmen,” “literati and artists,” and “street vendors.”
The work “Dyer” presents a scene where a wrinkled woman carefully puts a piece of cloth into the dye vat. Just as its name implies, a “dyer” is a person who dyes cloth for a living. There are three cloth dyeing methods handed down from ancient China, namely tie-dyeing, batik, and board painting. “In the past, the clothes were mainly popular in blue and indigo. The dyer dyed the cloth blue first, and the second dyeing would turn it indigo. Thus, there is a saying that the color indigo comes from blue but is darker than it, with a metaphorical meaning that the pupil surpasses his/her teacher or the young generation surpasses the old one,” said a staff member of Chongqing Bayu Folk-Custom Museum.
Except for the dyer, there are more than 100 lifelike sculptures, including boat trackers, carriers, tailors/dressmakers, bricklayers, carpenters, Sichuan opera artists, teachers, vendors, etc. These sculptures represent different scenes of ordinary people’s lives in Ba and Shu’s regions from the late Qing Dynasty to the early 20th century, vividly reflecting the politics, economy, culture, and people’s livelihood at that time. With unique regional characteristics and profound cultural meanings, they spread out a colorful picture of the life of workers who lived in that regions for visitors.
“It takes us more than one year from the initial conception to design,” said Deng Gang, a member of China Artists Association and Chongqing Sculpture Institute and leader of the sculpture team. He added, “Based on the natural and cultural environments, people’s physical appearance and aesthetic perceptions and features of their life in the regions of Ba and Shu from the late Qing Dynasty to the early 20th century, we chose the features of people engaging in 72 distinctive occupations and their body languages when they were working. These sculptures at the gallery were created to embody their simplicity and endeavors.”
Some of the 72 traditional occupations have survived, some are gradually fading, and some only exist in people’s memories or text and video materials. The Head of Yubei District Commission of Culture and Tourism Development said that every sculpture is of historical significance and represents the creators’ craftsmanship and ingenuity. Through such exhibitions, the city hopes visitors can learn more about the scenes of life in the past and the changes in traditional occupations. It also aims to inspire teenagers with patriotism and praise the spirit of craftsmanship featuring dedication, improvement, concentration, and innovation.
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