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    Feature: Artistic Chinese Liuli crystal tests the power of fragile
    English.news.cn 2015-05-27 11:31:28
    On a sunny Saturday afternoon, people are coming in and out a newly-opened store in the South Coast Plaza, a renowned luxury shopping center in Southern California.

    "It is eye-catching," said 21-year-old Elizabeth, after viewing dozens of crystal glass art pieces on demonstration by the LIULIGONGFANG (literally, crystal workshop), a famous Taiwan art brand.

    During the less than one month of LIULIGONGFANG's operation in South Coast Plaza, an average of about 100 customers per weekday were attracted into the store after their first look at the art pieces through the window. On weekends, the number tripled.

    "If I want to buy a luxury gift, I will consider this one. It is a gorgeous gift choice," said Elizabeth, pointing to an animal featured crystal glass art piece.

    The prices of the art pieces in the store are ranging from around 200 U.S. dollars to nearly 100,000 dollars. The most expensive, the "Formless, But Not Without Form" is standing on the exhibit platform without a price tag.

    "As it is a priceless art piece, we do not want to put a price tag on it," said Cherry Pan, a staff in the store. "If anyone is really interested in it, we will provide a consultant service."

    In French, the technique to make this kind of crystal glass is called "pate-de-verre." But about three years after Loretta Huishan Yang, an award-winning actress, learned the skill in France and began her own creation in 1980s, she found that Chinese people made the same kind of crystal glass in the Han Dynasty about 2,000 years ago.

    It is a mystery why no more Liuli craft was made in China during the past 2,000 years and all the famous brands of crystal glass at 1980s are European. Then Yang felt a self-induced mission -- to reintroduce the art to the world by blending Chinese culture into it.

    It was in 1987 when Yang and her husband Chang Yi, a former film director, founded the LIULIGONGFANG in Taiwan. Their productions include crystal decorations, jewelry and tableware among others.

    Through successful marketing, the company has grown fast. Now LIULIGONGFANG is a popular luxury brand in China and is gaining momentum in Asian, American and European markets. In the United States alone, sales reached 7 digits last year.

    In China, the reintroduction and production of Liuli is meant to revive the lost Chinese art. The couple decided to use "Liuli," the ancient Chinese term for crystal glass, to name their products.

    In the minds of many Chinese, Liuli is only the name of a kind of fragile beautiful thing they learned from ancient poems. Some 1, 200 years ago, Chinese poet Bai Juyi wrote in a poem "Good things are not lasting, just as colorful clouds are easy to disappear and Liuli are fragile."

    But before LIULIGONGFANG got success, few Chinese have seen a real "Liuli" art craft. So it gives people a kind of transcending- the-time-and-space feeling when they first saw a real Liuli craft which is supposed to only exist in ancient poems and their imagination.

    Now, LIULIGONGFANG's art pieces not only show people a real Liuli craft, its operation in South Coast Plaza which tops the sale among all luxury shopping centers in the United States shows the power and inner strength of this "fragile" art.

    When blending Chinese culture and philosophy into it, Liuli looks very different from its European crystal glass peers.

    Flowers often appear in Yang's Liuli works as she is a flowers lover. "The beauty of flowers and its blossom and fade remind us to treasure every moment of life," said Yang in a recent interview.

    Buddha is another key element in her works as both Yang and her husband are Buddhists. Different gestures, colors, backgrounds of her Buddha figures reflect the Buddha in her mind. Liuli Buddha sculptures are among her works added to the collections of famous Western museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.

    Yang said the "Formless, But Not Without Form" series combined both her deep thought of life and the exploration in the art journey. She couldn't help but recall how much she was excited to show her husband the works when they were done.

    In big rectangle clear crystal glass, the shape of different Buddha faces appear among random bright clear bubbles and white mist. Yang said the dream-like art pieces reflect "everything is actually nothing" and the "easy to change" and inconstant character of life.

    "I got the feeling of what was described in the poem -- body is like Liuli, clear from inside and out," Yang said. "The wisdom of Buddhism makes me see clearer to things in the world and have a clearer mind."

    Using crystal glass, a material that she says she is totally fascinated, Yang wants to build a five-meter high "Thousand Hands and Thousand Eyes Buddha," though she and her husband know it may cost all of their rest life.

    It took them six years and thousands of dollars to create a two- meter one.

    "Creation should not have limitation," Yang said, adding that " I love the freedom that Liuli provides me, to create."
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