|ARTIST:||Shen Ming Cun|
|DATES:||Chinese 20th Century|
|TITLE:||Huang Yoa Lan, Girl of the Dong Tribe|
|MEDIUM:||Oil on canvas|
|SIZE:||67 x 56 cm|
Shen Ming CUN
Chinese b. 1956
Born in 1956, Professor Shen Ming Cun studied art at the University Art College of Guang Xi, China. Today he is senior oil painting (teaching and research) director and professor at the Guang Xi Arts Institute, specialising in European classical painting. His paintings have come to focus on capturing, distilling and representing the unique traditions, costume and heritage of the minority tribes of Southern China. The affinity and respect that Cun has for these tribal people is clear in his works, which possess a lyrical beauty, dignity and grace. His paintings have been likened to visual poetry in their ability to communicate to the viewer a range of emotions and to draw the spectator into their worlds.
Cun captures the chromatic vibrancy of the costumes and ornate silver jewellery with a lightness and confidence that has undoubtedly led to his success. The intricate detailing of individual tribal members, their hand-made clothing, silver embellishments, earthenware and interior surroundings provides an element of the ethnographic in an attempt to preserve in paint the realities of these minority peoples. Their adornments are veritable symbols of the wealth, religion, ritual and national consciousness that shape their lives. The intimate moments that he often portrays provide an atmosphere of invitation and intrigue for the viewer. Cun credits the way in which these tribes live, their attitudes, culture and history as being the fundamental inspiration for his art. He says:
"I have spent a long time researching the richly colourful cultural heritage of the Yao and Miao nationalities and the Dong minority of Southern China. Over the years I have lived amongst them and become friends with these beautiful people whom radiate pure goodness and a simple love of life. Cultivating their ancestorís achievements, they turn life into immortal art."
Cun has been recognised with many national awards and his work has been met with international acclaim and features in many private collections worldwide. He has exhibited in London, Hong Kong, China and Singapore and has also taken part in several important national exhibitions in Beijing and Hong Kong.
The Dong Ethnic Minority
The Dong people live in villages that spread across the extensive stretch of tree-clad hills on the Hunan-Guizhou-Guangxi borders. At the time of the Qin and Han dynasties (221 B.C. - A.D. 220) there lived many tribes in what is present-day Guangdong and Guangxi. The Dong people, descendants of one of these tribes, lived in a slave society at that time. Slavery gradually gave way to a feudal society in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The Dong peopleís long struggle for emancipation from their oppressors has only been realised during the last century; today, the population of this ethnic group numbers almost 3,000,000. Their livelihood is based on farming, especially cotton, tobacco and soybean crops, and logging. Tong-oil, lacquer, and oil-tea camellia trees are also grown for their edible oil and varnish. Their villages are located near streams in houses built of fir wood, usually two or three stories high.
Home-woven cloth is used to make traditional Dong clothing; finer cloth and silks are used for decoration or for making festival costumes. Machine-woven cloth printed black, purple and blue is becoming more popular. Men usually wear short jackets with front buttons. In the mountainous localities in the south, they wear collarless skirts and turbans. The females dress in skirts or trousers with beautifully embroidered hems. Women wrap their legs and heads in scarves, and wear their hair in a coil.
The Dong have many festivals; Spring Festival, Worshipping Ox Festival, New Harvest Festival, Pure Brightness Festival and Dragon Boat Festival.
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