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The Dongba Culture. From the picture-writing of the Naxi people to the contemporary art by Zhang Chun He

curated by Filippo Lanci, Astrid Narguet e Lucilla Stefoni

16 July – 1 October 2017
Museo Capitolare di Atri
Open from Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 12pm, 4pm – 6pm

The Galleria Otto of Astrid Narguet and Lucilla Stefoni curated the exhibition dedicated to the Dongba culture of the Naxi people, as part of the international cultural project “Stills of Peace and everyday life”, which this year inaugurates the dialogue between Abruzzo and China.

The Naxi are one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China. They came probably from the North-west of China to migrate later to the South, in the Yulong mountain area. Their settlement along the bend in the river Yangtse and the undertaken trade with the Tibetan Lhasa and with India, on “the way of caravans of teas and horses”, allowed Naxi to progressively assimilate the cultural and religious influences of the ancient civilizations of China, Tibet, India and the south-east of Asia.

The “The Dongba Culture. From the picture-writing of the Naxi people to the contemporary art by Zhang Chun He” embraces with a wide panorama the many dimensions of a unique and fascinating civilization that is likely to disappear.

In the first part we will present the writing of the Dongba of the Naxi through a collection of manuscript papyrus pages. The Dongba writing, which at first glance reminiscent of Egyptian hieroglyphs by pure and pictorial style, is the latest pictorial writing still used in the world and threatened with extinction. In fact, the Dongba (shamanic priests) are the only ones able to understand and write it, and unfortunately they are less and less.

The second part of the exhibition offers a complete view of the sacred art of Dongba through the tankha collection, manuscript papyrus paging pages and wooden slab paintings. The Dongba religion, shamanist and polytheist, based on the cult of ancestors and nature, is based on primitive beliefs blended with Buddhist influence. According to legend, religion was founded by Dongbashilo, a demon hunter.

The last part of the exhibition is devoted to contemporary art with the works of Zhang Chun He, one of Naxi’s greatest artists, pioneer of Dongba style painting.

He graduated from the Beijing Central Academy of National Minorities and currently works as a production designer at Beijing Film Studios. He is a member of China Artists Association, Director of China Murals Association, Vice-Director of the Association for the Promotion of Dongba Art & Culture in Beijing, vice-director of the International Society of Naxi Studies and member of the Murals Commitee of the Architectural Society for China.

Works of Art