I stayed in the Chinese Art Exhibit for the most part of my visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The permanence of art and the ephemeral of life are the hidden motif belying any ancient artifact. As I stood there looking at a ladle with a nicely carved dragon-head at the end of the long-handle, many questions popped up in my mind. But these questions are as unanswerable as questions about our own life. What did the housewife look like who once used that ladle? Where had she got it from? Was it a gift from a friend or an item purchased at a store in a market? What kind of soup had gone through the ladle? Who made the ladle? How long it took him and what tools did he use? What stories, happy or sad, might the user, the artisan and their family have had? What eventually happened to all of them?
One of their offspring may have already passed by that forever silent ladle, removed from its home site thousands of miles away and encased in a glass window by someone or a group of people who were so different from the house wife and the artisan, without knowing his ancestor once used or even created that beautiful ladle.
Those displayed artifacts, many of them decayed over time or damaged by people, are silent witnesses to the vicissitudes of life, disinterested audience of many imperial and commoners' drama. They survive the passage of time and many unthinkable which perished their owners and creators. They were made to watch how man hurried through his busy life, chasing the insignificant, to his final destination. And they are constant reminders that life is to be looked at with lingering love and appreciation, and to be touched upon and felt gently and slowly.
Outside the museum, many Chinese artists were selling prints and paintings on street stands. Hopefully, some day one of their works will be on display in the stony building behind them, along with those made by their ancestors thousands of years ago. Well, it may not matter, as long as those street artists are enjoying and relishing their life the same way the museum goers the artifacts there.
- posted on 09/02/2003
Beautiful paragraphs. 大英博物馆里的陈列也很全，从人类文明史的角度说。过去我很爱去看，后来不太常去了。在俺看来，历史留下的artifact与artefact似乎本身并没什么区别。与之关联的背景t故事才确实是说之不尽的。
(c) 2010 Maya Chilam Foundation