In the bustling city of Beijing, an enriching and rather unconventional cultural event took place this weekend. Over forty acclaimed artists hailing from diverse nations such as Slovenia, Romania, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pakistan, and Nigeria were invited to partake in the “Culture Tour of Peking Opera – Beauty of Cycling” event. These talented individuals, eminent in the fields of music, dance, and various other arts, were presented with an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty and history of Peking Opera.
This cycling expedition, a brainchild of the Beijing Overseas Cultural Exchanges Center, took participants on a journey through iconic landmarks pivotal to the Peking Opera heritage. With an insightful English commentary accompanying them, the artists set off from Ji Xiaolan’s Former Residence, the revered birthplace of Peking Opera. Their path led them through historic sites like the Zhengyi Temple, offered them a distant view of the majestic Changyin Pavilion nestled within the Palace Museum, and meandered through the ancient Dongjiaominxiang Alley. At each stop, the artists were treated to a deep dive into the rich tapestry of Peking Opera’s evolution and the intrinsic charm that Beijing boasts.
Of particular interest was the group’s visit to the theater at Zhengyi Temple. This theater, bearing the distinction of being China’s oldest with a heritage spanning over three centuries, is a wooden marvel that has stood the test of time. It’s more than just a theater; it’s a chronicle of China’s operatic history, marking the transition from Yabu (Kunqu Opera) to Huabu (folk opera). This transformation encapsulates the comprehensive journey of Peking Opera, tracing its nascent stages to its pinnacle.
In a related cultural narrative, the city of Hangzhou in East China’s Zhejiang Province is gearing up to unveil “Conversation,” an exhibition that celebrates the splendor of ancient Chinese furniture. This exhibition focuses on exquisite furniture pieces from the Song (960-1279) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. More than just functional items, these furniture pieces are artistic marvels that encapsulate the aesthetic ethos of their respective times—simplicity for the Song and precision for the Ming.
The exhibit also promises a delightful juxtaposition. Alongside these Chinese masterpieces, it will delve into furniture and stationery from the Western study, initiating a fascinating dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures. An intriguing highlight will be the “China Chair” designed in 1944 by Hans Wegner, one of the twentieth century’s furniture maestros. Inspired by the Ming Dynasty’s round-backed armchair, the chair, available in a spectrum of materials, stands as a testament to the enduring influence of Chinese artistry on global design. Wegner’s subsequent creations, the “Y” Chair and the Round Chair, further celebrated Chinese elements and garnered global admiration.