Grace and Clarity：Collection of Paintings and Artifacts Themed on Aesthetic Offering of Guangzhou Museum of Art
Usually, an aesthetic offering refers to a precious object presented to nature or god. In ancient times, awed by the powerful nature, people paid tribute by offering the valuables to avoid disaster and seek good luck. Therefore sacrificial tribute was invented, which can be considered as the origin of aesthetic offering. Ancient people used to give incense, flowers and vegetarian dishes on sacrificial ceremonies. When Buddhism was spread across China, the tradition of offering flowers was introduced to temples to pay respect to the Buddha. Gradually, an offering was not only confined to sacrificial ceremonies or in temples, but also extended to people, especially literati’s daily lives: a trend of placing various objects on their desks, such as miniature trees and rockery, antiques, rare stones and exquisite stationary for decoration, adding a flavor of spice to life.
Among these offerings, the festive offering is the most popular, like New Year offering, Dragon Boat Festival offering and so on. In the past, assorted auspicious items were arranged in the living room for good fortune according to seasonal disposition, a tradition followed by both upper class like the royal family and lower class such as common people. Meanwhile, offerings on the study desk became a symbol and a part of social life for higher classes, which prevailed among nobles, officers in the palace and scholars.
The cultural connotation of aesthetic offering is very rich. It is a combination of many artistic activities such as antique appraisal, the art of painting, interior design and flower arrangement, reflecting the unique cultural psychology of Chinese people. Nowadays, every family in Guangzhou would place New Year flowers and fruits in the house during the Spring Festival, including peach blossom, narcissus, potted tangerine and fingered citron, which is an ancient custom passed down from generation to generation.
On the occasion of this New Year, we select a set of paintings themed on aesthetic offering as well as appealing items from ancient literati’s study desk and organize this exhibition, by which we send our best wishes.