Chinese artist presents Peres with peace statue

Internationally acclaimed Chinese sculptor and calligrapher We Yuan Yan, known professionally as Yao Yuan honors Peres.

August 20, 2013 21:50
3 minute read.


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Internationally acclaimed Chinese sculptor and calligrapher We Yuan Yan, known professionally as Yao Yuan, presented a stainless steel statue mounted on granite to President Shimon Peres on Tuesday morning.

The sculpture is a miniature version of the 15-meter-high Statue of World Peace, made from 40 tons of oxidized steel and dedicated on Tuesday night at the new Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa.

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Reflecting a merging of Chinese and Western artistic traditions, the statue symbolizes peace, harmony and tranquility. It has no sharp edges and suggests the flow of wind and water.

The image is that of a woman whose arms are stretched out like wings and whose body is tilted as though to take flight. A dove of peace is poised on one of her wings, and it, too, appears about to take flight.

The statue was given to Peres as a tribute to his unceasing quest for peace, and as a gift in honor of his 90th birthday.

Yao Yan, who arrived with his wife and a group of Chinese dignitaries, also brought two wall panels with black calligraphy on a red rectangular background that stood out against the overall background of gold silk brocade.

He also gave the president two wall hangings of Chinese paintings of peonies in shades of grey and black on a white background.

The paintings were on special paper used for this kind of art work.

Although he understands some English, Yao Yan does not speak the language, and Peres does not speak Mandarin. For all that, there was an excellent rapport between them and they spoke directly to each other without looking toward interpreters, as is so frequently the case.

In addition to a Chinese interpreter, there was a representative of the Foreign Ministry who, in addition to speaking Hebrew and English, has an excellent command of Mandarin. So, like the statue, the conversation flowed.

Yao Yuan did not have an easy time during China’s Cultural Revolution, and afterward decided to dedicate his life to world peace by producing statues that would remind people that peace was preferable to conflict. He gave such statues to the peoples of Korea (in 1995) and Russia (in 2000). The first World Peace Statue was designated for his own country and today dominates a central square in Beijing.

Since then he has given World Peace Statues to France in 2004 and Chile in 2011. He is now hoping that the statue he has given to Israel will be a good luck symbol for peace in the Middle East.

Peres said he was very moved by the gifts, especially because they symbolized something that was older than China and older than Israel – and that was peace.

“Peace is the oldest hope, but it doesn’t depend on only one side,” said Peres.

A longtime admirer of China, Peres noted that many people were worried that it had become so great that it could become aggressive. Peres did not share that concern.

“China is so great that it can become peaceful,” he said.

Peres believes that China has set an example for the world by rising out of the depths of poverty through the strength and determination of its own people. He said he often tells Arab friends that they should learn from the Chinese and do what they did in order to escape poverty.

Turning to the renewed peace negotiations between Israel and her Palestinian neighbors, Peres said: “To make peace, it’s not enough to understand yourself but [it is also necessary] to understand the other.”

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