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On 6 September, The Palace Museum Calendar (Gugong rili) for the year 2022 was officially released in a ceremony at the Palace of Established Happiness (Jianfu gong) in the Forbidden City. Wang Xudong, member of the leading Party group of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the director of the Palace Museum; Zheng Xinmiao, former director of the Palace Museum; Shan Jixiang, former director of the Palace Museum and director of the Cultural Relics Society of China; Yan Hongbin, deputy-director of the Palace Museum; Chen Lihua, former deputy-director of the Palace Museum and editor of The Palace Museum Calendar; and other leaders shared thoughts during the ceremony. Song Xiaojun, the editor-in-chief of the Forbidden City Publishing House, hosted the event.
The Palace Museum Calendar is one of the cultural business cards of the Palace Museum with its daily features of national treasures and date-keeping functionality. In 2009, the Forbidden City Publishing House issued a reprint of the 1937 version. Then, in 2010, the calendar was reimagined with an innovative use of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac by featuring the animal of the year in different works from the Palace Museum collection for each day of the year. To date, The Palace Museum Calendar has been published continuously for twelve years with 4,000,000 copies sold and over 4,300 featured works of art.
The year 2022 will be the Year of the Tiger, also known as the renyin year in the Chinese lunar calendar. The tiger is the third animal in the zodiac sequence. The cultural artifacts and works of art filling this edition span 5,000 years of tiger-themed works, from jades dating to the late-Neolithic era to paintings of tigers by modern artists such as Qi Baishi (1864–1957) and Zhang Daqian (1899–1983). The calendar theme is “Auspicious Tigers Welcoming the New Year, Mountains and Rivers Celebrating Peace”.
Director Wang Xudong, speaking of how the Palace Museum is an outstanding representation of China’s excellent traditional culture, noted how, calculating from the period from 1933 to 1937, The Palace Museum Calendar has over eighty years of history. After a dozen years of publication, this 2022 edition begins a new cycle of twelve and aggregates over ninety years of academic research at the Palace Museum.
The 2022 calendar has a new look featuring a winged tiger soaring among clouds as derived from an embroidered silk flag used as a prop in productions of the Court Theatrical Office (Shengping shu) during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). The four characters Gugong rili (The Palace Museum Calendar) of the title are those taken from a stele rubbing used in the previous publications while the character for tiger (hu) is from a stele engraved in the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534). The content includes objects, paintings, accessories, and garments embellished with tiger motifs, which demonstrate the abundance of tiger imagery in historical Chinese visual arts and the importance of the animal in traditional Chinese culture. Of note is the final section, which features the painting Amusements on Ice (Bingxi tu) in celebration of the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Publications are an important channel for cultural transmission. As part of an ongoing series, the calendar has beautiful images and serves multiple functions as a notebook. The work, published by Wang Yamin and edited by Chen Lihua—a former deputy-director of the Palace Museum—was compiled by Chen Lihua; Feng Hejun, Liu Yue, and Han Qian of the Department of Objects and Decorative Arts; and Li Shi of the Department of Painting and Calligraphy. Bantao Technology of Beijing provided the security tracing system for consumers to scan to conveniently verify the authenticity of their product. The new edition also incorporates the latest AR technology to bring the cultural relics to life. SenseTime of Beijing provided the technical support for the AR interface; readers may scan codes accompanying some of the featured art to encounter the works in a new and exciting way.
As the beginning of this new twelve-year cycle, The Palace Museum Calendar is sure to mark the start of a renewed exploration of the beauty of China’s ancient civilization.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu