Chan Laiwa (R) and Chi Chungsui (L) had a photo with Albert II, Prince of Monaco in front of the Sandal-carved Temple of Heaven (Photo/Shi He, Guangming Daily)
China Red Sandalwood Museum (CRSM) integrating the achievements of Chinese red sandalwood culture was invited to "The Forbidden City in Monaco", a major national exhibition in Monaco. "Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest in the Temple of Heaven" and "Pavilion Endowed with Pines and Cypresses", two fine red sandalwood works collected by Chan Laiwa, founder of Fu Wah International Group (Fu Wah) and Curator of CRSM, presented the cultural look and life of China's Qing Dynasty in its heyday along with more than 10 prestigious museums including the Palace Museum, the Louvre, Victoria & Albert Museum and Freer Gallery of Art which had brought 255 fine artworks in the Qing Dynasty.
On July 14, the exhibition opened at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco. The exhibition, which will run two months till September 10, is a national grand exhibition of imperial culture of the Qing Dynasty hosted by China and Monaco to mark the 22nd anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and Monaco, as well as the first of its kind CRSM has participated in with several world-renowned museums.
Zhai Jun, Representative of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Ambassador to France and Monaco attended the opening ceremony along with Albert II, Prince of Monaco.
Accompanied by Jean Paul Desroches, Curator of "The Forbidden City in Monaco", Cultural Heritage Director of France and former Curator of Musée Guimet, Paris and Prof. Wang Yuegong, Director of the Department of Palace Life and Imperial Ritual of the Palace Museum, Albert II visited the exhibition with relish, showing great concern about the treasures on show. He stopped before red sandalwood-carved Temple of Heaven, viewed it carefully, and had a photo with the couple and family of Chan and the Chinese Ambassador to France and Monaco. The prince nodded in agreement while listening to Chan's introduction to the origin of red sandalwood, the fusion of red sandalwood into Chinese imperial culture and the exquisite red sandalwood carving, thanking Chan for displaying such outstanding artworks in Monaco, to offer Monacan and French people direct knowledge of Chinese imperial culture and red sandalwood culture.
Among more than 300 attendees were Serge Telle, Minister of State of Monaco; Laurent Nouvion, President of the National Council of Monaco; Patrice Cellario, Interior Minister of Monaco; Gilles Tonelli, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Monaco; Jean Castellini, Minister of Finance and Economy of Monaco; Catherine Fautrierf, Monaco's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to China, as well as personages of all circles such as politics, economy and culture in Monaco. Ji Tianbin, Deputy Director of the Palace Museum; Zhu Liying, Chinese Consul-General in Marseille; Chiu Yung, President of Fu Wah; Chi Chungsui, Chairman of Beijing Red Sandalwood Culture Foundation and Chiu Li, Board Director of Fu Wah.
According to Desroches, exhibits include calligraphies, paintings, four treasures of study, Ming and Qing porcelain, royal clothing, furniture, Buddha statues and weapons, most of which are from Qing courts. All 186 exhibits from the Palace Museum are fine artworks, and the rest are collections of more than 10 European and American museums. The exhibition focuses on Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong, three emperors who brought the Qing Dynasty to the political, economic, military, artistic and cultural peak. Visitors will be lucky to see so many treasures such as 16-leaf jade-inlaid lacquer screen and the portrait of Empress Xiaozhuang.
Desroches also expressed special thanks to Chan for providing such fine red sandalwood ancient architectural artworks. He said there are four reasons for selecting CRSM's collections for such an important exhibition: First, the exhibition hall in the Grimaldi Forum measures up to 3,200 square meters, but the exhibits provided by the Imperial Palace are all small. Red sandalwood-carved Temple of Heaven from Curator Chan occupies the entire hall, marvelous. Second, the Temple of Heaven represents Chinese culture and Beijing; Pavilion Endowed with Pines and Cypresses represents the imperial garden in the Forbidden City. Both works can link visitors to Chinese imperial culture. Third, red sandalwood is very valuable and excusive to the emperors in the Qing Dynasty. Things made of red sandalwood are exquisite and noble. Chan's collections were made under China's unique mortise-tenon system without any nail, showing the delicate Chinese traditional culture. Last but not least, the Temple of Heaven is not strange to Frenchmen and Monocans because Curator Chan donated a red sandalwood-carved Temple of Heaven to France as early as ten years ago, receiving welcome and favor from French President Jacques Chirac and French people. It is still in Château de Chambord currently and was included in the French national cultural heritage list. To sum up, I believe that the Temple of Heaven you see first in the Grimaldi Forum will remind you of China and Chinese culture.
Desroches expected to make continuous long-term cooperation with Curator Chan to exhibit "Quadrangle Courtyard", "Ancient Beijing City Gate Tower", "Turret of the Palace Museum" and other fine collections of Red Sandalwood Palace worldwide, thus introducing Chinese red sandalwood culture to the world.
Chan said in an interview that the "Belt and Road" Initiative is promoting the globalization of Chinese culture. As a CPPCC member and the inheritor of national intangible cultural heritage-"sandalwood carving", she aspires to inherit, carry forward and spread Chinese red sandalwood culture throughout the world. Accepting the invitation from the Palace Museum and the royal family of Monaco to show her collections at such a grand national exhibition is her honor and an encouragement of her. This also shows that CRSM's collections not only represent Chinese traditional culture, but also are recognized by the international community. This will boost her confidence in further introducing Chinese red sandalwood culture to the world.
It is reported that the Palace Museum will host Monaco Royal Exhibition next September.