Artisans not only have to master their carving skills but also have to design the patterns. Their works require more creativity and sense of aesthetic. Artisans delineate delicate patterns on the objects they are making. However, they cannot have whatever they want. Artisans are not considered as artists because the creativity of their work is not enough for art. Their works might present the visual art of a certain culture, but not necessarily express the personality or emotions of the artisans.
Those roses, acanthus and irises were printed all over the wall not because the artisans liked floras. Artisans have to follow a certain rules while designing the patterns. Should the crane spread its wings on the embroidered gown? Should the tangled vine be carved into bilateral symmetry or radial symmetry? Should the petal be violet or yellow? Although artisans can decide what, where and how they are going to decorate the object, not everything is up to the artisans. Since patterns are ornamental, the decorations will be restricted by the meaning of the objects. Therefore, the creativity of artisans is restrained.
In order to know why patterns designed by artisans are not considered as arts, we must know where these patterns came from. Patterns were evolved from real things, being depicted sophisticatedly or being simplified by lines and geometrical shapes. Patterns were learned by apprentices from their mentors, and then being passed down to the future generations, being transformed by the river of time. Inheriting, adapting and transforming the old traditions, artisans will form new traditions as time shaped the sense of aesthetic. The limited changes preserved the patterns of the past which make certain patterns so-called “classics”.
Patterns represent a region’s human and natural history, symbolizing the visual art of the culture. Whether we call it the oriented, the classical, the exotic, the Eastern, etc., it all depended on what culture the observers are based on. Persian rugs, blue and white porcelain, totem poles, and acanthus leaves, the pattern and visual image that lasted for thousands of years. They are a collection of art of a culture instead of a media that were made to convey the thoughts or ideology of the artist.
Patterns are the art of culture that combined both ancient and contemporary. However, in terms of purpose, neither ornamental patterns nor the artisans are creating the works for art’s sake. The importance of artisans’ crafts is more about culture’s presentation in visual form. Nowadays, thanks to mechanization production and contemporary trends of minimalism, decorative crafts served less for manufacture but become the soil of art, enriching the depth of art.
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