Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A Chinese New Year Taster

Being the last-minuter that I am, I must be asking for trouble by declaring on Monday that we plan to learn more about Chinese New Year this year, when the big day is only days away.  That is a sure way to work myself into a frenzy!

http://thetigerchronicle.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/CNY

Luckily the V&A came to my rescue yet again, with a whole day of Chinese New Year related activities!  Woo hoo!  With many varied cultural activities prepared by professionals, all we had to do was to show up and work our way through them -- such an arrangement is this homeschool mum's best-case scenario.

The museum's central courtyard has a large landscape installation by a modern Chinese artist.  The landscape is of major significance in Chinese art, as seen in the art of bonsai and traditional Chinese landscape paintings.  While the pre-Impressionistic Western landscape paintings' emphasis is on realistic representation, the Chinese landscape paintings have always been non-representative, with its emphasis being on conveying certain philosophical and spiritual aspirations (most notably due to the influence of Laozi's philosophy as expressed in Taoism).


The first craft that Tiger made at the museum was the Chinese Opera mask.


The mask is made entirely out of paper and looks like this when completed:


Traditional Chinese Opera masks are painted directly onto the actors' faces, using specific colours and patterns to represent well-known operatic characters.


After the craft session, the museum even had a short "Introduction to Chinese Opera" workshop to take the children through a few of the uniquely-identifiable stage gestures and movements of each character.


Other activities Tiger was to do that day included:
(1) Making a mini kite out of lollisticks, craft tissues and coloured cards.


(2) Watching a paper cutting demonstration.


(3) Practising Chinese calligraphy.  The practice in Chinese New Year is to write certain auspicious wordings on a piece of red paper and stick them around the house to signify bringing good luck and prosperity into the home.  A very common word that is used is "fu" (福), that embodies the meaning of good luck and good fortune.  There are many different styles or schools of Chinese calligraphy, hence there are numerous ways to write the word "fu", as you can see Tiger practising below.


The day ended with us attending a traditional Chinese instrumental concert, performed by the musicians from the UK Chinese Ensemble.


The style, sounds, and atmosphere of traditional Chinese music is very different from those of classical Western music.  The concert gave the audience an excellent experience with a wide repertoire of solo pieces, duets, as well as ensemble pieces.  For example:
(1) a zither or guqin (古琴) ensemble:

video

(2) a yangqin (扬琴) solo:

video

(3) an erhu (二胡) and yangqin (扬琴) duet:

video

(4) a guzheng (古筝) solo:

video

(5) a xiao (萧)solo:

video

(6) a pipa (琵琶) solo:

video

(7) an ensemble piece:

video

The finale was a traditional Chinese New Year piece titled <<喜洋洋>>, loosely translated as "Beaming with Joy":

video

The score for this piece of traditional Chinese New Year music was rearranged for the ensemble performance at the V&A.  It was originally written for a full Chinese orchestra:


The day has been a good introductory overview to the Chinese culture.  To do justice to the depth and breadth of the Chinese culture (as it is with any culture), we will have to spend more time to study the individual components of this one-day "crash course" individually.


This post is linked up to:
  1. Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #12
  2. Hip Homeschool Hop - 1/28/2014
  3. History and Geography Meme: Ancient Greece activities
  4. Entertaining and Educational - Energy
  5. Collage Friday: Thankful for Homeschool
  6. Weekly Wrap-up: The One with all the Snow
  7. The (New) Homeschool Mother's Journal (2/1/14) 
  8. Chinese Activities Link Up

20 comments:

  1. Tiger goes on the coolest field trips!
    I used to have a friend at university who was from Eastern Asia (I can't actually recall which country), but she used to cut me the most amazing paper cuttings. Of course at 20 I didn't appreciate it like I would now. They were so intricate.
    Great study day as always, Hwee!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks, Claire. :-)

      My guess is that your friend must have been from either Japanese (where paper cutting is called kirigami) or some part of the Chinese territories. Paper cutting is really fascinating and requires much skill!

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  2. Oh my goodness I am so envious of the amazing workshops offered at the museum! A full day's worth of hands on activities is something I dream of finding! Did Tiger put up his Fu signs around the house?

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    Replies
    1. The accessibility to the many activities in London is one reason why I'm reluctant to move further away. :-) We are indeed very lucky to have access to the various workshops.

      No, Tiger didn't put his Fu signs around the house, but he helped put other decorations up. :-)

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  3. How fabulous that you live close to that museum. We loved it when visiting London. Thanks for all the music clips. In Germany they have zithers too. I wonder how similar they are. All the other instruments are so different. Music is a great way to experience culture.

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    1. V&A is a wonderful museum. I'm very glad that they have been very keen to support the learning of other cultures, and have always done a very good job at that.

      Music is indeed a wonderful way to experience different cultures, as each culture's music often reflect its identity and philosophy.

      Delete
  4. What fun! We love CNY and celebrate every year. This year the girls and I learned how to write numbers and alphabet in Chinese. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Melissa. I'm glad that you enjoy and celebrate the Chinese New Year too. It's such a colourful festival, isn't it? Have a good weekend!

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  5. Alright, I'm jealous! Love the amazing things your local area offered!! We live in a small area that offers a lot, but not this much. What a great job of taking advantage of the offerings!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa. London has a lot to offer in terms of cultural activities, so we are indeed very lucky to have access to those activities. :-)

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  6. What an awesome experience!
    Blessings, Dawn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we are lucky to have access to these activities. Thanks for stopping by, Dawn. :-)

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  7. That looks like a fun event and covered quite a bit of the culture. We had dumplings for lunch and called that our celebration.

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    1. You're doing more than we have done, Beth. We haven't had our dumplings yet, but will do so today. ;-)

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  8. Those are all wonderful ways to celebrate Chinese New Year. I had forgotten about it until yesterday, so we didn't get around to doing anything this year :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry. Chinese New Year celebration goes on for 15 days, so you still have two weeks to go, if you still want to join in the celebrations. :-)

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  9. So many awesome things to steal, I mean borrow. Thanks for linking all of these ideas. You gave me great ideas for our study on Friday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome, Ticia. :-) Have fun with the activities!

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