Painting with Wings: The Chinese Kite

Written by Juliette Qi

 

History of the First Kites in China

 

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Traditional  Kite in China 

The first kites date from the Warring States Period (ECB 475-221, also called the Eastern Zhou Dynasty). During this period, they were made of wood and were called Mu Yuan木鸢 (wooden kite). This kite prototype, or “wooden bird”, has its origin in the ancient text of Mozi (BCE 551-479), who was a philosopher a century after Confucius.

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Flying A Kite

In fact, it was not until the Tang Dynasty (CE 618-907) that light kites made of silk and then paper (bamboo was a common material used for the support) made their appearance. It was at this time that kites went beyond their original military function and were instead used for recreation. Immediately, the artisans began decorating their creations in a more artistic way. During the Ming (CE 1368-1644) and Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasties, the production and flying of kites became an art form. The kite also became an elaborate object with a colorful decoration in the shape of a bird, flowers or flower buds and of course included elements of Chinese calligraphy. The Chinese kite, like the Chinese lantern and parasol, has become a means of artistic expression, usually with the predominance of literary themes.

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Traditional Design “Swallow”

 

Weifang and the Kite Festival

The Chinese city Weifang, located in the Shandong Peninsula, has a special relationship with the kite. Weifang City is home to the International Kite Association and hosts the Weifang International Kite Festival every year from April 20th to 25th. Many interesting kites are presented on this occasion every year, which attract thousands of people from all over the world to the city to compete or to watch the performance of the majestic colorful kites. The China Highlights Festival Tour offers its guests a unique opportunity to enjoy this annual event with locals and kite lovers from around the world. The highlight of the festival is at the annual “Kite King” event. Obviously, the city of Weifang has a museum dedicated to the history of this activity.

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Dragon Kite of Weifang

It was in Weifang in 1282 that Marco Polo is supposed to have witnessed the flying of a kite. According to Marco Polo’s diary, there was a tradition in the nearby city Weihai at this time for measuring wind direction and force with a kite to determine whether an imminent trip was a good idea. This was done by attaching a large kite to the stern of a sailboat that was freely anchored, so that the boat would move in the direction of the wind. Then, the kite was removed from the sailboat and was allowed to fly away. If the kite flew high and straight, it was a sign that the trip will be good and if not, it would mean that the trip would not be easy.

When he returned to Italy, Marco Polo brought a Chinese kite with him. Soon, thanks to the Silk Road, the Chinese kite became famous in Europe and then continued its journey from Europe to the New World. In the Pavilion dedicated to the ‘Conquest of the Sky’ at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, a plaque was erected on which is inscribed the following homage to the Chinese kite: “the earliest aircraft are the kites and missiles of China”.

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

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New Year’s Painting: A Decorative Art

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Chinese Printed Painting, or Banhua版画 in Chinese, first represents the engraving process that then gave birth to the art of printing onto wooden boards. However, nowadays, when we speak of Chinese Printed Painting, we imply rather the paintings made mainly on the occasion of the Chinese New Year as one of the festive decorative arts. This kind of painting is therefore called New Year’s Painting or Nianhua年画 by the Chinese people.

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Traditional Style in the 17th Century, Taohuawu

 

What is Chinese Printed Painting ?

In China, printing involves a process of embossing on wood to create a painting or leave an inked design. In effect , a Chinese artist first creates a model in relief on a wooden board. Then, he applies ink to the raised parts and presses the engraving on special paper. After pressing, the ink leaves a mark on the paper to form a drawing. This is the basic principle that then gave rise to other woodcutting and printing techniques.

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The Gods of the Door

 

Use for the Chinese New Year

The Chinese people discovered this printing and stamping technique around the 6th century. Over the centuries, they have gradually used the prints during traditional festivities and especially the Chinese New Year. This complex process, which only an artist can do, was much appreciated by emperors who were very fond of art, especially during the Song Dynasty. The techniques have therefore improved over the centuries to create more refined paintings.

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Painting of Character”Fu”(Felicity), Taohuawu

More than just an art object, New Year’s Paintings have a real symbolic value in the eyes of the Chinese. In their tradition, these printed paintings can attract happiness, chase evil spirits and protect against evil for the coming year. The New Year’s print reflects the customs, mood and aesthetic taste of the population, making it a valuable asset of cultural heritage worth high appreciation.

 

Style for Each City

In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, painters devoted themselves to the production of New Year’s Painting, allowing it to reach its maturity. Nowadays this Chinese folk art is primarily made in three small villages of China and each of them offers rich and varied patterns.

 

 

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Pattern of the Yangliuqing School

The Yangjiabu School, near Weifang, uses colored woodcuts with exaggerated shapes that fit the beliefs of Chinese peasants. These very showy prints are the most popular in China and the most widespread. The schools of Yangliuqing near Tianjin and Taohuawu near Suzhou offer more refined and harmonious works.

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Pattern of the Taohuawu School

 

Woodcut Paintings

New Year’s Painting is a class of woodcut painting, which is a traditional folk engraved painting that has been popular in China since the Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-9). It is a fantastic innovation of Han art and culture.

Therefore, it has been better protected and has attracted more and more attention from the contemporary Chinese people. It is also the most special technique invented after the appearance of printing with engraved plates, preceding the invention of the modern printing press. It has adapted to the mental demands, folk belief, aesthetic design, and needs of the daily life of the Han people. This kind of painting developed and improved over time, forming a unique style that is natural but elegant and sober but alive. Born from the daily life of the Han people and used for holiday decoration, this art has always played the role of enriching the life of the Han and reflecting the good wishes of the people.

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Masks of Peking Opera: Representations and Connotations

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Due to their shapes and bright colors, the Chinese masks of Peking Opera are remarkable and the visual effect that they provide is particularly striking. The appearance of Peking Opera in China dates back to the end of the 18th century and was a mixture of dances, acrobatics and music featuring Chinese historical stories and folklores. Initially, the actors wore real masks which were later replaced by a kind of makeup specifically designed for each character. The innumerable combinations of colored lines add intensity to each character’s expression and produce a strong aesthetic effect at the same time.

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Peking Opera Characters Dan and Jing with Drawn Mask

 

Colors and the Expression of Personalities

For Chinese classical opera, each color used on a mask contributes effectively to express the character’s personality:

  • The red mask symbolizes loyalty, courage, bravery, sincerity and righteousness.

  • The black mask symbolizes firmness and honesty, or temerity.

  • The white mask symbolizes mistrust and cunning.

  • The yellow mask symbolizes ferocity and ambition.

  • The green mask symbolizes bravery, brutality, despotism, vehemence and irascibility.

  • The blue mask symbolizes ferocity and cunning.

  • The purple mask characterizes righteousness and sophistication.

 

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Colorful Masks with Different Connotations

 

Nowadays various reproductions of these Chinese operatic masks, which can be worn for parties and theatrical performances or which can be hung on the wall as decoration, are sold commercially. A 3D mask with its decorative elements placed under glass or framed can become an original and beautiful decorative object. There are also Chinese paper cuttings, which is a popular Chinese traditional art depicting characters from Chinese Peking Opera.

 

The Makeup of the Four Roles

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The Makeup of the role “Dan”

 

Peking opera always has four fixed main roles whatever the play performing. These roles are:

  • The Sheng生 (man) who represents the young or old man, which can be distinguished from their beard.
  • The Dan 旦(woman) who has six types of roles, ranging from the virtuous girl to the old woman.

  • The Jing 净(painted face) who is a character often wearing a mask and who has the most assertive personality. He most often represents a god, a general or a mandarin.

  • The Chou 丑(clown) who is a comic figure, a jester, who wears a white makeup stain on his face.

 

The make-up of the Peking Opera is extremely artistic and takes great skill to achieve it. Like calligraphy and Chinese painting, the brush must be handled with force and precision. The application of colors requires the harmony of strong hues and light hues. When drawing the lines on a mask, fine brushes are used with great attention. Only then does the makeup attract attention from the audience and really come alive.

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Face Changing: An Original Technique in Sichuan Opera

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The Sichuan Opera: A Historical Art

Ranking among one of China’s top opera schools, the Sichuan Opera has a long history dating back more than 400 years to the end of the Ming Dynasty and the early Qing Dynasty. At that time, in the Sichuan region, one could witness several different forms of popular theater that gradually developed and merged to become today’s Sichuan Opera.

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The Masked Actors

The Sichuan Opera incorporates various artistic specialties typical of the region to develop an unforgettable grand spectacle. It represents a modern synthesis of 5 historical and melodious styles well known in China. It is characterized by solo songs, skillful interpretations, rich percussion instruments and incredibly funny comedies. The artists are dressed in brightly colored costumes and move quickly in time with dramatic music. They also wear masks with sparkling colors that they change in a fraction of a second.

The show’s tricks, such as quick changes of face without make-up, acrobatics like jumping through hoops on fire or, the concealment of sabers, fascinate and entertain the audience. Note that “the magic change of face” is particularly famous.

 

Development of “Face Change”

The ‘change of face,’ or “bian lian” in Chinese, appeared around 300 years ago during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1736-1795). This theatric technique represents an important aspect of the Sichuan Opera. Furthermore, the precise techniques used to modify the masks in modern opera remain a closely guarded secret.

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“The change of face” in Sichuan Opera

This secret is transmitted from generation to generation among the actors. In contemporary opera, comedians wave their arms, turn their heads while their painted masks change constantly, causing astonishment and amusement among the spectators. At first, the color of actors’ faces was changed by means of colored powder sprayed out of containers. The powder thus adhered to their oiled skin. Another method was to smear their face with colored paste hidden in the palms of their hands. For example ,red symbolized anger and black for an extreme fury.

From about 1920, the artists began to use multi-layered masks made of materials such as paper. During the performances, they successively removed the layers to show different faces which is called Bian Lian. Later this technique has practically become an art in itself and contributes to the peculiarity of this Opera. This technique is a well-kept secret that is transmitted only from actorss to actor.

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The Changing Masks

Nowadays, actors can have up to ten masks and change face every 10 seconds during a simple hand wave and the purpose is to surprise the audience. It is amazing to see these actors changing their masks with a magic sweep of the hand or by turning their heads and, therefore, it seems difficult to notice the transformation. In this nuance of gestures, the artists constantly change their face without revealing the slightest clue. The most talented of them can wear up to 24 masks and change 10 masks in less than twenty seconds.

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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Introduction to Qingming Festival: the Chinese Day of the Dead

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The Day of the Dead or Qingming (清明节 Qīngmíng jié, literally “purity (of air) and light”) is one of the most popular traditional festivals in China. For thousands of years, on the occasion of this festival, which takes place at the beginning of the spring, the Chinese are accustomed to going to the graves of their deceased loved ones, a little like the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) celebrated in Mexico and South America. Both of these festivals have a long history of bringing together rituals and activities of different origins.

 

The Legend of Qingming

寒食节
The Cold Meal Festival

This holiday is also called the Festival of the Cold Meal. Where does this name come from? About two thousand years ago, Chong’er, son of Prince Xiangong of Jin, was expelled from his country for nineteen years. During his exile, he suffered many trials and most of his companions abandoned him one after the other, but Jie Zitui remained at his side as his  most faithful subject.

At the end of his exile, Chong’er returned to his country and ascended the throne, wishing then to reward his companions according to their merits. However, Jie Zitui was not interested in fame and fortune, so he took refuge on Mount Mianshan as a hermit with his mother. Wengong looked for them for several years, without success. Knowing that Jie was a dutiful son, Wengong  ordered for the mountain to be set on fire with the intention of forcing him to come down. However, Jie Zitui and her mother had preferred to die rather than be appointed high officials. Wengong, extremely sad, buried them on that mountain.

The day Jie Zitui chose to die rather than accept the reward became the Day of the Dead. In memory of his humility on that day, all families have a cold meal that was prepared the day before to avoid using fire. Over time, it has become a custom of the Day of the Dead.

 

Customs of Qingming

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Poem Qingming by Du Mu

The customs of the Qingming festival are varied and interesting. Apart from the sweeping of the tombs and the rejection of fire, there are other traditional habits such as flying kites, going on excursions to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of spring and playing on swings etc.

 

  1. Visit the Graves of the Ancestors

That day, the most important activity for the Chinese is to visit the tombs of their ancestors. After firstly cleaning the graves, offerings are prepared like food or a bouquet of flowers to express the nostalgia felt towards ancestors.

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The Visit of the Tombs of the Ancestors
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Offerings in Front of the Grave

 

  1. Go on An Excursion

The Qingming festival takes place in early spring. After visiting the tombs, it’s a good time to go on a mountain excursion with the family and enjoy beautiful spring landscapes.

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Go on an excursion with Family

 

  1. Fly A Kite

The ancients believed that if one wrote their illness on a kite and made it fly high before cutting the rope, the disease would fly away with the kite. It later became a common recreational activity.

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Painting: “The Kite and the Ten Beauties”

 

  1. Eat the “Green Ball”

Last but not least, a special green cake is often eaten at the Qingming Festival. Its dough is made of flour and herb sauce. The cake is stuffed with red bean puree or meat, so it is tastes sweet or salty.

Qingtuan
The “Green Ball” Cake

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The Jade in Today’s Life

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Today, jade is still very popular in Chinese daily life. It is a precious material much sought after by collectors not only for its different shades of green, but also for its symbolic meaning rooted in traditional Chinese culture.

Often made into jewelry such as pendants, bracelets and earrings, jade is also widely used in Chinese interior decoration as a symbol of honesty and courtesy vis-à-vis the master. It also adds a quiet and peaceful atmosphere to the house.

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Modern interior decoration with jade objects

 

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“Jade Cabbage”, Imperial Interior Decoration, Qing Dynasty,
National Palace Museum, Taipei

 

 

The Acknowledgement of Jade in Europe

Jade has been known for over 7000 years. The name jade dates back to the time of the Spanish conquest of Central and South America and comes from the “piedra d’ijada” or hip stone, which was considered a protection and cure against kidney disease.

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Modern Design Pendant

For its therapeutic effect on the kidney, the stone was also known as “lapis nephriticus”. It was not until 1863 that mineralogists discovered that jade consisted of two distinct minerals, jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite is very hard and durable due to its structure made of very small grains fit tightly together. And nephrite, a variety of actinolite mineral, is even harder, because of its inter-paired fibrous crystal composition in a hard compact mass.

Nowadays, jade also plays an important role for Western stylists in the design of modern jewelry as a special aesthetic element.

Jade has become increasingly popular. In China, the finest qualities of jade come from Xinjiang (Hetian), Fengcheng in Liaoning (Xiuyan), Zhejiang (Qingtian) and Henan (Nanyang). The line between jade and precious stones is not always easy to draw. For example, the most beautiful jade stones can be worth as much as gems of comparable quality.

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Chinese Fan as Cultural Heritage

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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Fan as Decoration in a Tea Room

History of the Chinese Fan

The history of the manufacture of traditional Chinese fans dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 23 AD). The first fans were made of feathers and because of this, the Chinese character for the word “fan” takes the character for the word “feather” as its radical. Bamboo was also used as early as the 2nd century to make fans.

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Traditional Fan of Feathers

During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the folded fan appeared in China for the first time as “Japanese Fan” and became very popular during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It is said that it was in Japan that the folded fan was invented in the 9th century, before being introduced into China through Korea.

 

Various Uses

In ancient times, fans were used to keep the air fresh and to ward off sunlight and dust. People from all walks of life loved fans for their practical use.

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Braided Straw Fan

For practical purposes, the most commonly used were the palm leaf fans. In constrast, some fans that were made of quality materials and demonstrated great artistic skills were mostly used for decoration. Ivory fans, for example, were paid as tribute to the imperial court and were regarded as symbols of power and social status. Some of the paintings decorating the fans reached the heights of virtuosity, with many including calligraphy work and poems inscribed by masters.

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Fan of Literati  Front
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Fan of  Literati Back

The use of the Chinese fan as a combat weapon may seem more surprising to Westerners. Indeed, some martial arts used war fans as weapons of battle. This type of fan with a steel mount served at the same time as a rallying sign , and in the direction of troops and for protection during saber fights.

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Fan of Tai Ji as a “Weapon”

The practical use of fans has decreased with the innovation of electric fans and the air conditioner. Traditional fans, however, are still known for their artistic value, especially those featuring beautiful paintings. Fans can also made of various materials, such as sandalwood, feather, paper, silk, bamboo, etc.

Beyond its common practical uses, fans also serve as an accessory of communication in the hands of Chinese theater actors. The roundness and silky softness of fans attributed to female roles accentuate their seduction, while folding fans attributed to male roles tend to emphasize their dignity and intelligence. Thus, through gestures made with a fan, an actor manifests his good manners (Zhuge Kongming with his fan of feathers) or his sense of humor (Jigong with his broken fan).

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The Use of Fan in the Kun Opera

 

Craft as Cultural Heritage

There are different styles and traditions for crafting fans in different regions of China. Suzhou fans are usually made of silk and sandalwood, those of Hangzhou in black paper, those of Sichuan bamboo, those of Guangdong in palm leaves, etc.

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Chinese Fan Applied for Fashion Design

Fans are a characteristic product of traditional Chinese craftsmanship. Even though fans with a European flavor were made for exportation from the 17th century, this accessory has remained an essential element of the art of living in Chinese culture.

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The legend of the Chinese New Year or “Nian”

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The Chinese New Year 农历新年 (Nongli Xinnian), also called Spring Festival 春节 (Chunjie), is the most important festival for Chinese communities around the world. The celebration of this festival lasts a fortnight, from the new moon to the first full moon of the year, which corresponds to the lantern festival.

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Have you noticed that the Chinese New Year, which begins the Year of the Dog this year, has already arrived? Have you ever wondered what is the origin of this traditional festival and its many customs? Here is a short video that will provide an overview of the origin of this festival through a Chinese legend:

After watching this cartoon on the “Nian”, do you find the monster terrifying or cute? According to Chinese legend, in the deepest corner of the world lies this frightening and mythical creature called “Nian”. He woke up each winter and became a real disaster for the villagers because he devoured and destroyed everything in his path. Yes, as you may have guessed, he must have had a ferocious appetite after having rested for a long time …

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Le Féroce  Nian

As a result, the poor villagers lived in anguish and even domestic animals were scared. Until one day, an old man traveling through the country explained to them that the monster was afraid of the noise and the red color. To drive the monster away, the people hurried to hang lanterns and red banners in their houses.

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Lanterns and Red Couplets as Decorations Today

When the creature arrived once more to frighten the people in village , everyone made as much noise as possible by beating gongs and drums, as well as snapping firecrackers. Terrorized by the color red and the incessant noise, Nian fled and never came back. Therefore the New Year’s celebration is called Guo Nian in Chinese (literally “pass the year”).

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The Noises to Chase Nian

Nowadays in China, some traditions are still practiced like sticking red couplets on the entrance of the houses, with New Year’s greetings inscribed on it. The Chinese New Year has also evolved to adapt to the contemporary situation. To avoid the air pollution, children no longer crack firecrackers as fun in the cities. However, in some specific places, we can still watch beautiful fireworks while wishing for a prosperous new year.

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The Chinese New Year is a moment when everyone enjoys the holidays and family gatherings. “HAPPY NEW YEAR” in Chinese: 新年快乐 (Xinnian Kuaile) or 新年好 (Xinnian Hao) are exclamed to wish an excellent year that brings us joy, happiness, prosperity, love and good health!

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The Chinese Musical Instrument: The Guqin and its Music

Written by Juliette Qi

 

As you may have heard, / As you may have heard of before, the guqin (Chinese: 古琴, literally “ancient string instrument”), or qin, is a traditional Chinese musical instrument with plucked strings.

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The Guqin or the Chinese Zither

In 2008, in recognition of its original value, UNESCO added guqin and its music onto the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. To better understand guqin and its music, I recommend that you watch this video in which an artist plays you a famous and historical piece called “Guanglingsan”.

History

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Guqin Player in front of the Incense

Played since ancient times, the guqin was traditionally appreciated and considered by Chinese scholars as a refined instrument. Emphasized by the quote “A gentleman does not part with his qin or his se (another musical instrument) without good reason” (Lijing), it is also associated with the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius. The Chinese sometimes refer to guqin as “the father of Chinese music” or “the instrument of the wise.”

Until the twentieth century, the instrument was simply called “qin”. It is also called “qixianqin” (literally “seven-string instrument”). The guqin should not be confused with the Guzheng, another long Chinese zither also devoid of frets, but with a movable bridge under each string.

 

Music

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Musician Playing Guqin

Having 3000 years old, Guqin, or Chinese zither, occupies the first place among the solo instruments in Chinese music. The art of Guqin was originally reserved for a cultured elite group and was practiced privately by nobles and scholars, not intending for public performances.

The guqin is an instrument with soft sounds and a range of four octaves. Its empty strings are tuned in the bass register and its lowest note is two octaves below the C, namely the same lower note as the cello. Its sound is produced by pinching the strings,  pressing the strings on a key or using harmonics. The use of the glissando gives it a sound reminiscent of the pizzicato of the cello, the double bass without frets or the slide guitar. Traditionally Guqin has five strings, but the ones with 10 strings or more also exist. Its modern seven-string form was standardized two millennia ago.

 

To Master an Art of Literati

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Musicians Playing Guqin and Xiao

Along with calligraphy, painting and an ancient form of chess(Go), guqin is one of the four arts that every Chinese intellectual has to master. By setting the strings in ten different ways, the musicians can get a set of four octaves. There are three basic instrumental techniques: san (free string), an (chord stopped) and fan (harmonics).

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The novel La cithare nue(“The Naked Zither”)

The French novel La cithare nue (“The Naked Zither”) by the writer Shan Sa, published in 2010 by Albin Michel, tells the moving story of a Chinese noble woman in the fifth century whose destiny crosses that of a luthier in the sixth century through their mutual love and that of the third century female musician Cai Wenji by their imaginary interaction with her.

In reality, there are now less than a thousand accomplished Chinese Guqin players and probably no more than fifty masters still alive.

 

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

The Most Beautiful Water-Towns in China

Written by Juliette Qi

 

In eastern China, especially in Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province and Shanghai City, there are many towns and villages built around rivers. Many of these are surrounded by water, so that these cities are often compared to the Italian city Venice. It is not by chance that a famous Chinese proverb says “In heaven, there is Paradise , on Earth earth, there are the cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou. (上有天堂, 下有苏杭)

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Here is a short video about Zhouzhuang, a most famous Chinese watertown :

Canals and bridges

Water-towns are often furrowed by canals. These cities only reveal the true extent of their beauty during the spring and autumn months. In the Jiangsu Province, the capital city Suzhou is known as the Chinese Venice. The Venetian explorer Marco Polo himself gave it this nickname! Founded almost 2,500 years ago, Suzhou also has its Grand Canal, a route used for centuries to transport silk. Nowadays you can leisurely visit the city on a cruise. The beauty of its canals and bridges is renowned throughout China.

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Stone Arch Bridge

Nanxun is one of the most recommended small water-towns. Cannels, bridges, alleys and Chinese traditional old buildings that rival the contributions of Western architecture make Nanxun unique among the other cities presented here. Walking along the canals, under the centuries-old weeping willows,you will meet more locals whose families have lived there for generations than tourists.

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Bridges and Buildings with their Symmetrical Reflections

The historical town Nanxun does not enjoy the same degree of bustle as other water-towns like Zhouzhuang or Tongli. And that’s a good thing in some ways because it preserves a quiet atmosphere and allows it to remain, in our opinion, more original and more picturesque.

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Traditional Buildings along the Canal
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Wooden Bridge with Roof

Cultural and Natural Heritages

 

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Traditional Fishing Boats

The small old town of Tongli, surrounded by 5 lakes, is a classical ancient water-town established along the Yangtze River. The fishermen of Tongli go fishing in the surrounding lakes with cormorants, which is an ancient custom often documented by Chinese and foreign television programs. Most buildings in Tongli are located along the waterways, hence it also has the nickname “Little Venice of the East”.

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Covered Walks (left)

Halfway between Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou, Xitang is known for its famous bridges, alleyways and covered walks along the canals (langpeng (廊棚 / lungpnng /) – Xitang is the only one of these cities to have these covered walks. Calm because of less commercialism, it is a prime location for photos. After a visit to the former residence of the Xue Family (the Fastener Museum), the art gallery for “sculpture of root” or the Western Garden, you can enjoy a fishing party with locals and dinner on a boat.

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Rain Season in Xitang

Xitang offers a landscape that has inspired many great Chinese painters. Some people think that the village is even more beautiful on rainy days.

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modern architecture with traditional style in Zhujiajiao

Only one hour’s drive from downtown Shanghai, the old town of Zhujiajiao is a good destination to enjoy the contrast between modernity and traditional architecture, take pictures and enjoy the 36 old bridges that connect the different neighborhoods of this small city which covers 1.3km² and offers a nice example of traditional Chinese-style residences.

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Zhouzhuang : popular but more commercial

Zhouzhuang is one of the oldest water cities in China and therefore has an interesting architectural heritage. Its craftsmanship and folklore also add to the interest for tourists. Although it cannot be denied that the large number of visitors to this small town may be a detriment to the quiet contemplation it offers, it is unquestionable that the ancient houses, the water way and the old trees make Zhouzhuang a must-visit place.

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Historical Residences in Zhouzhuang

Over 1,000 families still live in residences built between the Ming and Qing period (1368-1911). Do not hesitate to take a ferry to discover these views from the water. For some tourists, the beginning of the day is a good time to enjoy the quietness, and spending the night there is also a plus.

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!