The Suzhou folklore museum presents ancient culture through brick carving
Web Editor:International Daily
The Suzhou brick carving museum, a folklore museum located at an old, tiny yard in east China city Suzhou, tells a story of over a thousand years old.The place has a glorious past. Wang Ao, a Chinese litterateur during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), used to call it home. Popular during his time, Wang's house was often crowded with other scholars visiting him and was practically "the living room for Suzhou literature world". The last known master of this place was Yuan Jingzhen, daughter of Yuan Shikai, first formal president of the Republic of China.Having witnessed hundreds of years of changing time and people, this yard has been modified as a brick carving featured museum, home to more than 1,000 brick carving pieces of art.As the most important representative in brick carving art, the carved bricks in Suzhou were all crafted on the best bricks known as the imperial kiln brick. The patterns cover various themes including people, flower-and-bird and natural landscapes.Meng Qiang is the curator of the museum, and he is very familiar with his favorite piece. He thinks it has been carved very meticulously, showcasing the ultimate pursuit of details in Suzhou residents' spirit."This carved brick is a typical one featuring our style. It describes Lanke Mountain (also known as the mountain of the rotten axe handle, an ancient legendary tale which sighs about the flying time). The most brilliant part of this piece of art is that at the top, it was carved with an 90 degrees angle and the groove went very deep; while at its bottom the graver carved with an 45 degrees slope. As a result, when you shed some light from the top, it appears to be quite stereoscopic and vivid," said Meng.Traditional Chinese architectures were normally designed to face south, but things are different in Suzhou's brick-carved arches."The arches with brick carvings in Suzhou face north, and the people living in the nearby houses face south so that they can actually enjoy themselves when looking at those pieces of art whenever they like. So I think the large portion of local arch culture is about elites hiding from the outside world and live an enjoyable, undisturbed life," Meng said.Brick carving is a decorative art of East Asian traditional architecture, especially folk architecture. The patterns are directly carved on the burnt bricks.The Suzhou brick carving art is one of China's national intangible heritage.