Marvelous Colors, Manifold Forms Find the beauty in glass art

Since ancient times, glass art has played an important role in the development of and the cultural exchange between the Eastern and Western civilizations.

Starting at the beginning of 2022, Tsinghua University Art Museum has been holding a special exhibition, Marvelous Colors, Manifold Forms: Cultural Exchanges in Glass Art among the Ancient East and West,displaying glass artworks that show the power of glass art to bring people together in ancient times across cultures.

It features a set of 325 ancient glass artworks from the Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Gallery in Japan, and is being held with support from several Chinese cultural institutions.

Lets take a look at some of the highlights from this special exhibition!


The exhibition is divided into four parts: Gestation and Birth, Communication and Integration, Blooming and Resplendence, the West and East.

The first section shows the history of the development of glass art. It can be observed from the displayed items that the glass art of different civilizations in each period not only had its own uniqueness, but also presented striking similarities.

Glass is not the product of modern industry. Glass-like products “faience” appeared in Egypt as early as 4000 BC, which was mainly used for decoration.

At the same time, China's Western Zhou Dynasty also mastered the technology of making “faience”, and in the Han Dynasty, the Chinese created the color "Han blue" and produced many exquisite glass bead ornaments.


During this period, mosaic technology appeared in Egypt. This kind of decoration made of broken glass is widely used on utensils. Inheriting the technology of early glass, mosaic glass in this period showed green characteristics.

In China, when it comes to handicrafts, jade gets mentioned. During the Warring States period, Chinese glass art imitated a large number of jade products that displayed pure turquoise. Such was the influence of the technique that the glass beads of the Han Dynasty would be mainly decorated in blue and green.


The biggest change in this period was the development of glass blowing technology. As a result, a variety of gem-like golden glassware began to appear in the East and West. Such as western laminated glass, gold and silver glass, various blowing utensils from the Eastern Han and Jin dynasties to the Southern and Northern dynasties.


With the maturity of eastern and western glass technology, the role of glass products is no longer limited to decoration, and tends to be more practical. That said, glass art continues to thrive in modern times with colorful characteristics.


Pure blue, vibrant green, gorgeous gold, clear silver...Do you like such colorful glass artworks? Although the East and the West are far apart, the development of the Silk Road and the commercial exchanges that followed brought the glass art of the East and the West together, prompting the integration of civilizations.

Post time: May-12-2022