Posted by Imperial Harvest on 03 September 2021
Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins
The Qing dynasty bears witness to one of the most prosperous and successful eras of China’s dynastic history. Led by ethnic Manchus, it is renowned not only for its material abundance, but also for fostering a thriving exchange of cultures between the East and West. The unparalleled fortunes of the Qing dynasty make it widely acknowledged as a “Golden Age” in ancient Chinese history.
The achievements of the Qing dynasty are especially evident during the reign of Emperor Qian Long. Under his wise and eminent rule, the Qing dynasty underwent a renaissance of the arts, culture, architecture and innovation. Inspired by his fervent endorsement of and adherence to the principles of Imperial Feng Shui, this ancient art also thrived and was widely adopted by officials in the Qing court.
The extensive influence of the West throughout the Qing dynasty is clearly evident in the prevailing imperial architecture and design language. Emperor Qian Long’s appreciation of Western design techniques and elements led him to extensively engage the services of Jesuit missionary and painter Giuseppe Castiglione. In 1747, Castiglione was appointed to oversee the design and construction of Western-style structures in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace. He was assisted by a diverse team of designers that included other Jesuits such as Jean-Denis Attiret, giving the palace a unique East-meets-West aesthetic.
Castiglione also brought this harmonious fusion of Eastern and Western artistic styles to imperial court paintings, which he was invited to produce. He adeptly applied his Italian artistic training to prevailing Chinese tastes, creating bold and innovative styles of court paintings. Under Castiglione’s influence, these paintings took on increasingly Western qualities, giving rise to a novel genre of East-meets-West artwork that endured throughout the Qing dynasty.
With his service to the imperial court spanning the reigns of three emperors, Castiglione played a large role in fostering fruitful dialogue between Eastern and Western artistic styles. His extensive contributions were greatly respected and appreciated by Emperor Qian Long, who appointed him an official of the third rank.
Today, the pioneering east-meets-west aesthetic that widely permeated the Qing dynasty lives on at Imperial Harvest. Inspired by the revolutionary designs introduced to the imperial court by Castiglione, the Imperial Harvest Qian Long Jadeite Mountain Collection incorporates Western design elements and techniques that gained popularity throughout Emperor Qian Long’s reign.
Taking reference from the trompe l’oeil technique popular in European paintings, the Qian Long Jadeite Mountains incorporate elements of forced perspective into their design. Through deft manipulation of human visual perception, Master David and his team of designers amplify and draw attention to the auspicious features that adorn each Imperial Harvest Qian Long Jadeite Mountain.
The preparatory groundwork for the carving of each Qian Long Jadeite Mountain also bears resemblance to the elaborate process undertaken by Castiglione in his paintings for the imperial court. The emperors favoured silk as the medium for such artworks, in appreciation of its uniquely soft and smooth texture. As painting brushwork on silk is difficult to remove or revise, Castiglione often perfected his sketches on paper before proceeding to transfer his elaborate artwork to the delicate silk canvas.
Similarly, every Imperial Harvest Qian Long Jadeite Mountain begins life in the fertile creativity of Master David’s design sketchbook. After meticulous work to determine and finalize the sketches, they are sent to our state-of-the-art workshops, where our master craftsmen cut and carve the finest raw jadeite according to Master David’s enlightened vision.
With his patronage of Western design styles and techniques, Emperor Qian Long catalysed the fusion of Western artistic cultures with traditionally Oriental symbols, themes and design elements. His appointment of numerous Western art and design consultants to the imperial court came to be seen as a bold endorsement of novel and exotic ideas and approaches.
Emperor Qian Long’s penchant for reimagining the status quo makes him a prominent architect of the Qing dynasty’s cultural and physical landscape. His reign brought about thriving intercultural exchange and new forms of creative expression within the empire.
At Imperial Harvest, the influence of Emperor Qian Long’s pioneering spirit guides the development of every earthly treasure. Just as Emperor Qian Long left his lasting imprints on the Qing dynasty through his groundbreaking initiatives, Master David decisively shapes the course of modern Imperial Feng Shui with his bold vision. In staying true to the Imperial Feng Shui ethos that flourished in the Qing dynasty with Emperor Qian Long’s patronage, Master David today plays a prominent role in revitalising this ancient lost art.
As an architect of modern Imperial Feng Shui, Master David is passionate about contemporary applications of this noble art. Over the years, Imperial Harvest has partnered countless clients on the journey towards attaining their personal and professional goals. While these may be in areas as diverse as career aspirations, familial relationships and personal development, Imperial Harvest’s commitment to Imperial Feng Shui and adherence to its core tenets remain constant and enduring.
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