Symbolism of Chinese and Western sculpture culture

Any kind of independent culture has its basic symbol. Only observing the same type of art can we see the cultural symbolism. Therefore, the difference between Chinese and Western sculpture art can also be an image hint of the differences between Chinese and Western culture. China's sculpture culture and China's thousands of years of development track, in a rather closed environment, after a long process of brewing, germination, self-development, accumulation and maturity, has a fierce collision with the western open culture. This difference does not happen by accident. It can be analyzed from the following four aspects.




1、 Intelligence and emotion -- cultural background


Almost all western theories originate from philosophy. In ancient Greece, people began to explore what the world was made of. Aristotle's logical reasoning and Euclid's geometric arithmetic are all the results of advocating wisdom. Archimedes' experiment is not only the expression of the Western emphasis on intelligence, but also the source of Western rational analysis and scientific judgment. In the eyes of Westerners, the existence of anything is reasonable. What is the difference between Chinese philosophy and Western Philosophy. Confucius said that "benevolent people love" and "gizzard benevolence". This kind of social ethics based on benevolence has become the cornerstone of Chinese culture. From Confucius, wisdom and Mencius to modern times, they have been people of benevolence and benevolence in China. The core of society is "Tao" in China and "logos" in Greece.


At first, logos had the meaning of "Fenli". Later, in the continuous evolution, logos had the meaning of speech, that is, the meaning expressed by words or inner thoughts. Therefore, logos had the meaning of inner thoughts. It can also refer to rationality. Heraclitus used it to express "the truth spoken", and believed that the right truth expressed the true principle. Today, logos is often translated as "rational reason". Logos narrative has strict rules, which eventually developed into a later form of logical reasoning. Tao is unspeakable and unspeakable. There are two possibilities. One is that Tao can be complete only when it keeps silent. The so-called knowing person doesn't speak and the speaker doesn't know; the other is that Tao can't be conveyed by language. At the beginning of the 20th century, Tao was unspeakable. First, it caused the trouble that Tao could not be spread. Second, it was easy to misunderstand. Therefore, understanding Tao was more concerned than understanding it.


This difference between the East and the West has a great influence on art, which is simply the problem of similarity in form and spirit. "Likeness in form" and "likeness in spirit", one is rational, the other is perceptual, which is an eternal topic in the field of art. Form resemblance is the degree of conformity between the appearance of art and the things existing in the real world. However, the degree of attention given to form resemblance is different in different environments. In ancient Greece and the Renaissance, the integrity of the form is related to the success or failure of the whole work of art. However, in ancient China, the similarity of form was behind the artistic conception. Gu Kaizhi is an advocator with both form and spirit. He put forward that "vivid portrayal is in the middle of Adu" is a high generalization of the requirements of Chinese painting for meaning and likeness.


The requirement of artistic conception in China is not only reflected in painting, but also in sculpture. Ancient Chinese works of art, whether characters or animals, all strive to pursue similarity. Therefore, most of the sculpture works focus on the depiction of the expression, and express the spiritual world of the object through the expression, and rarely rely on the action or scene. Compared with the similarity in form, the similarity in spirit is more difficult to express in kind. It is not only the expression of the attitude towards the object, but also the expression of the sculptor's own feelings, which makes the works of art have their own emotional color. This is another form of similarity in spirit. Therefore, the most important thing in Chinese figure sculpture is the shape of the head. Walking into Yungang Grottoes of the Northern Wei Dynasty, the head of the Bodhisattva first drives our sight, while the rest of the body is just a stone with stiff lines. The Bodhisattvas in the Longmen Grottoes of the Northern Wei Dynasty have a huge head, a round face, eyes closed, mouth slightly tilted, and a look of ecstasy. They all combine the inspired face with the non physical body. But the Western sculpture's body shape and the facial appearance portrays are mostly coordinated. The head is the most important part of Chinese figure statues, especially the eyes. For example, in the bronze figures of the Shang Dynasty at the Sanxingdui sacrificial site, we can already find a preliminary example of paying attention to the eyes: the eyes of all the figures are high and protruding, and some even look like two pillars, which seems to exaggerate the expression of "vivid" craftsman. Chinese sculpture often goes straight into the inner spirit of the object and does not care about the authenticity and rationality of the image. The terracotta warriors of drumming and rap, discovered in Chengdu, vividly shows the narrator's expression of devotion and selflessness. Although it does not strictly follow the proportion modeling of real people, its exaggeration and vividness are far from comparable to realistic modeling. To sum up, the western traditional cemetery sculpture is based on the realism and representation of rationality, while the Chinese traditional sculpture is the expression of spirit and sensibility. In some cases, traditional Chinese sculpture is not to record reality, but to create atmosphere.




Chinese dragon sculpture



2、 God and Buddha religious belief


In the early stage of the emergence of Western sculpture, although it first appeared as the decoration of architectural art, it gained its independent status in a relatively short time. In ancient Greece, God and human are of the same shape and identity. From the top to the bottom, it is called "God system". It compares the ruler and God, strengthens the tendency of personal worship while consolidating the rule, and promotes the development of western city commemorative sculpture, especially the emperor commemorative sculpture. When each emperor ascended the throne, his statues were made and placed in temples or other public places. With the gradual stability and prosperity of society, people's attention has shifted from the worship of God to the attention of life. The number of God statues has gradually decreased, and the number of ordinary people's portrait sculptures has gradually increased. Since 2500 years ago, there have been a large number of ancient sculptures with human body as the main theme. Ancient Greece believed that "man is the measure of all things", and in the Western tradition, there was a habit of preserving the remains of ancestors, so it became a tradition to carve the image of the deceased on the tombstone. But since the 5th century, thousands of years of European art has been confined in Christian culture. During this period, the development of sculpture art was limited. Christian theme and sculpture became the main content of sculpture, and sculpture art became the tool of religious symbols. In addition to the limited barbarian art and other forms of sculpture art, the pagan image and secular themes are basically gone. In the era of religious sculpture, there is no such problem in China. Due to the inclusiveness of Chinese culture, Buddhist sculptures often contain images of other religions. However, the original sculptures are not affected by other forms of sculpture, such as mausoleum sculpture, folk tomb sculpture and craft sculpture, which are far away from religious content and subject to secular needs. And from the content of the works, there are great differences between Chinese Buddhist sculpture and Christian sculpture. Christianity is born out of Judaism, which insists on the purity of spirit and opposes idolatry. Early believers avoided art. However, with the increasing number of believers, most of them were illiterate, and it was difficult to preach to them. The secret church had to change its course and try to use visual image to guide the believers. Thus, Christianity, which was served by sculpture art, began. Under this motive, Christian sculpture became the Bible of stone.


The cultural background of advocating nature in China determines that Chinese sculptures show a wide range of subjects, including not only characters, animals, fictional animals (dragons, phoenixes, unicorns, etc.), the combination of human and animals (the human head and snake body of Nuwa and Fuxi), but also mountains and rivers, forests, clouds and fog, myths and legends, historical stories, life scenes, and the modeling of a large number of animal artifacts. In the early stage of Chinese sculpture art, there was no primary or secondary choice for the performance of the theme, but its closeness gradually appeared, and more and more occupied the main position. In the late stage of Chinese sculpture after the rise of religious sculpture, the portrait was fully developed. However, the religious concept of the unity of man and God in Chinese religion is not common. Before Buddhism and Buddhist art were introduced into China, there has never been a high tide of public worship of statues. Confucianism and Taoism, which have the greatest impact on Chinese culture, do not attach much importance to the value and significance of statues. Confucianism advocates the realization of human responsibility and obligation in society, and believes that human reputation and spirit are the core of Chinese culture The most important goal of the individual is to achieve immortality through personality. Early Taoism also believed that "Tao is invisible", and sacred things can not be expressed by tangible substance. Therefore, in the history of China, there are few people who directly erect statues for emperors. However, there are a large number of sculpture works with the theme of scenery, animals and plants, which reflect the totem culture and naturalism spirit of ancient Chinese culture to a certain extent.



3、 Explicit and implicit existence value


Ancient Chinese sculpture art is closely attached to religious buildings (grottoes, temples, Taoist temples, etc.), and there are few independent public sculptures in mausoleum buildings and palace buildings. Because ancient Chinese buildings are mainly made of wood structure, in the period of frequent wars, these sculptures attached to the buildings disappeared with the damage of the buildings, and now most of the sculptures are handed down to the world Tombs or hidden mountains are rarely seen in people's view.


Western architecture has always been based on stone materials, the stability of the stone itself makes it easier to retain the building. At the same time, the square centered urban pattern of ancient Greece and Rome played a great role in the development of urban public sculpture and influenced the landscape of European cities in the future. From the Renaissance to the 19th century, people sought inspiration from the sculptures of ancient Greece and Rome, and now, just like the ancient Greeks and Romans, they closely linked sculpture with daily life and regarded it as the soul of the city. Sculpture has always been an important element in the construction of urban public environment. In any ancient city in modern China, it is hard to find the traces of public urban sculpture left by history. However, in many documents, our ancient ancestors also tried to build urban sculptures. According to records, in order to build the Weishui bridge through Xianyang City, the first emperor of Qin ordered to "carve stones to make statues of Mencius and Ben as sacrifices.". Large scale urban sculptures of Han Dynasty are also recorded in historical documents. In the era of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty, there were bronze immortals, bronze dragons, bronze horses, bronze birds and various deities outside the palace. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, bronze horses and camels were also cast in the imperial palace. Unfortunately, these statues are now hard to find. The works of non religious and non mausoleum yiweixing sculptures left over from the Han Dynasty are the stone statue of Li Bing and some incomplete stone figures of the Eastern Han Dynasty, two large round statues of Confucius Temple in Qufu, Shandong, Weng Zhong in front of Zhongyue temple in Songshan, Dengfeng County, Henan, and kuangzhuang statue in Zou County, Shandong. Regardless of the spiritual connotation and artistic value, in terms of quantity, these works can not be compared with the mausoleum sculptures of the same period, and they are even more different from the urban public sculptures of ancient Greece and Rome. After the Qin and Han Dynasties, although there were secular large-scale stone carvings, such as stone lions in front of palaces and yamen, religious statues, tomb carvings and ornate handicraft decorative carvings were still the mainstream of traditional Chinese sculpture.


The biggest difference between Chinese and Western sculpture in theme and culture is the closeness and publicity. Ancient Chinese sculpture, which is mainly based on tomb sculpture, is an art of serving the dead, while most Western portrait sculpture is an art of appreciation. They are essentially different in purpose and function. Different geographical environment, different way of life and different social organization structure result in the differences between Chinese and Western sculpture. The closure of the political system resulted in the simplicity of Chinese culture, which in turn promoted China's feudal rule for more than two thousand years; the migration and trade of Europeans promoted the open social system, political democracy and national differentiation.


Chinese freehand sculpture



4、 Object and meaning thinking mode


The essence of the thinking mode of Chinese traditional art is a comprehensive monism, that is, the pursuit of two in one, the universe as a unified whole, can not be separated; while the essence of the thinking mode of western traditional art is to analyze as a means, the world as different parts, the pursuit of one divided into two, relatively independent. In the process of the development of Chinese and Western thinking modes, two different thinking modes have been formed. The western thinking mode pays more attention to logical reasoning because of the influence of western culture. It combines the scientism and idealism of ancient Greece and lays an important foundation for the model of sculpture art. The Chinese culture emphasizes the thinking mode of intuitive image, which is based on intuition To experience, comprehend and grasp the object directly. This way of thinking goes beyond logic and concept and is better at understanding. This so-called "breakthrough" and "turning stone into gold" also form a different cultural characteristic from the western thinking mode which emphasizes analysis and tends to be abstract.


The characteristics of Chinese traditional culture of monism thinking mode are embodied in plastic arts, which forms the expression method of paying attention to the fusion of images and passing through images, and establishes the concept of paying attention to the expression of images in Chinese traditional arts. Chinese traditional art pursues freehand brushwork and symbolism, while western traditional art pays attention to reproduction of realism. This is the biggest difference between Chinese and western traditional sculpture. Human body sculpture is a rare subject in Chinese sculpture art, which attaches great importance to ethics, while the theme of Western sculpture art has been advocating healthy human body image since ancient Greece. Chinese and Western sculpture, one focuses on the accuracy of the physical structure, the other emphasizes the artistic conception of the "vivid portrayal". Western realistic sculpture and Chinese freehand sculpture have become their respective characteristics. Ancient Chinese sculptures did not deliberately pursue strict proportion and anatomy, nor did they pursue the accuracy and vividness of external images. They paid more attention to emotional feelings and experience when creating characters or animal images. This kind of processing method does not pay attention to the entity of the object, but focuses on the overall performance and rhythmic relationship, and pays more attention to the spirits of the characters and animals, and uses exaggeration and deformation to make the image jump in the picture. The western traditional art integrates the type of geometric form into the concept of form, imitates the object image with the support of philosophy and science, and finally creates nearly perfect works of proportional anatomy. However, China advocates "vivid portrayal" and "vivid portrayal" and attaches importance to the shaping of characters' personality and mental outlook. Therefore, Chinese traditional sculpture focuses on the expression of internal temperament and facial features, while Western sculpture focuses on the fine study of external image and proportion structure, thus forming two different ways of image modeling of Chinese ancient sculpture and simulation modeling of western traditional sculpture. Therefore, Western cemeteries tend to use sculptures to commemorate or express emotions, while Chinese people are more used to implicit words.