Dragon plaques

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Aseries of antique Chinese plaques that travelled through time and space are now on exhibition at CityU Gallery. "Imperial Dragon—Wood Carvings" features a collection of rare plaques, some nearly 1,000 years old, carved with dragon motifs. "Nothing represents Chinese culture more than the dragon," remarked President H K Chang. "As a young and energetic university, we are pleased to introduce such great cultural heritage to our students and to the Hong Kong community as a whole," added Professor Chang, officiating at the opening of the exhibition on 5 December 2001.

Also known as Pi Lu Mu, the dragon plaques, crafted of red camphor and fragrant camphor, were designed to resemble the cap of the Pi Lu Buddha. Throughout Chinese imperialist history, the dragon served as the symbol of the emperor. Only those who had reached a certain official ranking or noble status could possess them, using them to decorate their homes and display their status.

The plaques today are in the private collection of Professor Shen Dingren at Beijing's China Technology Management University. "Different owners had different styles," he said. "By studying these plaques, the personality and vision of certain historic figures come alive even today."

The exhibition features some 30 pieces from all over China, ranging from the Song to the Qing dynasties. Professor Shen noted that very few pieces still exist. About 16 can be found at Beijing's Palace Museum. Professor Shen has more than 200 plaques in his private collection, perhaps the largest in the world.

The exhibition, opened by Professor Chang and Professor Shen, continues until 31 January at the CityU Gallery.



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