The Weaving, Dyeing and Embroidery of the Li People: 2000-Year-Old Techniques

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The weaving and dyeing techniques of the Li* have a long history and unique characteristics. The Li mainly produce linen fabrics, cotton, brocade, printed and dyed products, embroidery and long bedspreads (a kind of brocade, the most delicate to make). Li women are skilled in spinning and weaving, and especially show their ingenuity in spinning and weaving “bombax” cotton and local cotton. Even before Song Dynasty (960-1279), Li women already knew how to weave and could weave colorful bed sheets and curtains.

 

13

 

According to historical records, the traditional spinning and weaving techniques of Li cotton have a history of more than 2,000 years. Since the Han Dynasty (207 BC-220 AD), Li brocade has been offered as a tribute to feudal emperors of later dynasties. Cheng Bingzhao, a poet of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) once praised the exquisite work of Li brocade in these terms: “Li brocade is as beautiful and brilliant as the sun in the sky “. “Li” brocade is appreciated because it is exquisitely manufactured, beautiful in its design, practical, and has the characteristics of the spinning, weaving, dyeing and embroidery of the ethnic group.

 

The Different Techniques

The Li minority has its own spinning, weaving, dyeing and embroidery techniques and, in different regions, has also developed them according to local preferences.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Spinning: The main tools involved are the hand wheel and the wheel driven by a pedal. Spinning using the hand wheel is the oldest spinning technique. Before cotton sheets grew in popularity, wild linen sheets were predominant in areas inhabited by the Li minority. People peeled the wild flax fibers they picked up during the rainy seasons and turned them into a base material after soaking and rinsing. After dyeing, they spun it by hand or with the spinning wheel and wove it.

Dyeing: The dyes are based on wild or cultivated plants. They are characterized by bright colors, speed of catch and various resources. Dyeing is important empirical knowledge of the Li people. In the Meifu dialect area there was also a knot dyeing technique, called “Jiaoxie dyeing” in the old days. This unique process follows the process of “knotting first, then dyeing and finally weaving” and has obviously integrated these three techniques.

Weaving: There are mainly two types of looms, the loom powered by a pedal and the craft “Juyao”. The craft “Juyao” is rather old, similar to that used by the Banpo clan six or seven thousand years ago. Li women could use the “Juyao” craft to weave exquisite, sumptuous and complicated patterns. The loom is even far ahead of the big modern jacquards in jacquard weaving technology.

 

Li Knot Dyeing

Knot dyeing, known as “Jiaoxie” in the past, played a major role in the textile printing and dyeing of the Li. The raw materials are knotted, dyed, spun and woven into colored fabric. The dye is mainly made from leaves of plants, flowers, bark or tree roots. Natural mineral dye is also an addition.

12

 

Currently, Li-knot dyeing is widespread particularly in the Meifu dialect region. In this region, there are stands that support the fabric reserved for dyeing knots.The patterns are fine and exquisite. In the dialect region Ha, however, there is no support for knot dyeing. People tie one end of the vertical line to their waist and the other to their feet. The patterns consist of thick and irregular lines. The process of dyeing knots consists of drawing the pattern, tying, dying, re-dyeing, rinsing etc. However, the pattern decision process is often omitted by Li women, as various drawings are already in their memory.

 

11

 

Knotting, also known as “wrapping”, plays a crucial role in knot dyeing because it directly affects the result. When the knotting is finished, the skeins are lowered from the wooden bearing and then dyed. After being dyed repeatedly too? Does not make sense on its own), they are dried to allow the indigo to be oxidized and air dried. Then the hanks are dyed repeatedly, until they reach the required color. When the dyeing process is complete, the skeins are loosened, rinsed with clear water to remove the excess color, and then dried. The vertical lines (weft) will then present a pattern. People can then weave the horizontal lines of color (chain) with the loom “Juyao”. An exquisite piece of art will then be born.

The Li process of ” dyeing knots first and then weaving”, although different from the other ethnic methods of “weaving first and then dyeing knots”, not only allows the pattern to show all its fineness, but also adds more color changes and causes the pattern to have a distinct color gradation. Such a kind of naturally formed chromatic halo makes the brocade more exquisite and superior in its artistic efficiency.

 

3

 

NOTES*

The Li 黎族 (Lí Zú) is one of 56 ethnic minorities living in China. Their population was just over 1.2 million at the end of the 20th century. The majority of the Li live off the south coast of China on the island-province of Hainan, where they are the most numerous natives.

 

 

 

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!

Advertisements

Chinese Inspirations in Modern Home Décor

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Nowadays, China and its ancestral traditions still inspire decorators looking for new ideas. At the same time, Chinese style deco accessories have become a kind of travel guides to the other side of the world.

3-Panel-Canvas-Wall-Art-for-Home-Decoration-Wall-Art-Picture-Chinese-Calligraphy-Painting-Art-Print

 

For Europe, China represents above all exoticism and passion from elsewhere. In the eighteenth century, it was also the symbol of a fantasy Orient where everything was luxurious, calm and pleasant. Today China still fascinates as it once did due to the richness of its culture and its traditions. It is also where we can find some decorative objects to bring a little serenity to our home.

 

Chinese-calligraphy-art-Dragon-painting-3-piece-canvas-prints-Room-decoration-Modern-wall-decor-Office-art

 

To decorate the walls, Chinese calligraphy adds some fun to the decor. Choose the characters that correspond to the message you want to convey in your home: calm, purity, serenity and harmony in life, or, on the contrary, strength and vitality for your career. And for the rest of the house, you will also find calligraphies or paintings that will perfectly echo the original styles of your rooms.

 

3

 

Privilege all the objects that suggest meditation and soothe the mind: bamboo objects, plants, aerial lanterns, screens to isolate oneself in a quiet place … and the essential accessory: a Buddha statue. You can place it on tables or cupboards, it will bring its wisdom to your daily life.

 

003321810200

AA016462

For a Chinese-style Asian decoration, choose curtains matching the background color of the furniture. This will be diffused on the white walls when creating a luminous and warm atmosphere.

 

20140522104604-74350b21

 

The Chinese- or Asian- style decoration has had a strong presence for our home deco for a decade. This is indeed the popular style with the large consumer community in all major furniture decoration stores.

 

16070551_110354633000_2

A simple and clear style, a mix of various materials and scents, Asian style is a call for rest and exotic travel that we can do at home thanks to all our decorations and decor accessories.

 

 

 

 

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!

Feng-Shui and the Art of Feeling Good at Home

Written by Juliette Qi

In recent years, Feng Shui has been experiencing a huge craze. It is neither science nor religion and is based on ancient Chinese knowledge. The purpose of Feng Shui is to arrange the space in order to optimize the circulation of Cosmic Energy and to improve your quality of life. If Feng Shui was a modern artform, it would be called the “psycho-energetics of places” or the “psycho-sociology of space” … Indeed, this is exactly the relationship of ourselves to everything around us.

1
Feng-Shui: the “psycho-sociology of space”

 

The Foundation of Feng Shui: A Positive Energy to Stay at Peace with Oneself

Based on coexistence, on nature and ourselves, and on the two contrary forces of Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine), here energy is fundamental in our daily life. The more fluid the circulation, the more you feel a subtle but real well-being.

At home, decoration is an attempt to appropriate the place in which we try to project our identity. That’s why we say it’s the human who gives his or her identity to the place. Trying to improve our wellbeing by harmonizing the energy of the habitat, Feng Shui, an Asian discipline more than 5,000 years old, brings modern answers to our desires to feel good at home.

 

The entrance

Ideally, the entrance to your home should be spacious, bright and clear of any bulky object. Shoes, umbrellas, storage boxes, shelves, tools: all these objects that sometimes adorn our entrance halls will block the “chi” (positive energy coming from outside) by preventing it from circulating freely in the house.

20121026_a8619d5ee60d0c1d279170bENBoTxnUl
A Spacious and Unobstructed Entrance

 

Any object placed in the entrance to your home will influence the overall image of your home. Hang a picture of a beautiful landscape or other positive symbol in front of the front door. A shoe cupboard topped with a beautiful bouquet of flowers (fresh!) or a vase filled with small colored candles are the best effect for visitors (they bring vitality and are welcoming).

 

The living room

The living room should preferably be large and bathed in daylight. Some apartments or houses are from this point of view very poorly designed (narrow living rooms and large bedrooms). If this is the case in your home, you should only keep the furniture which is absolutely necessary in the living room so as to enlarge the available space.

2
The Vast and Bright Living Room

 

The sofas must always be placed back to the harmonization of the energies of the habitat, against a wall or, failing that, against a room divider or a cupboard. Armchairs and sofas should also face the front door of the living room. These precepts address one of the most important rules of Feng Shui: protect your back – by using a wall, a wardrobe, a screen – but keep a vision in front of you, so as to see those who enter the room. This provides a great sense of security.

Choose decorative elements (carpets, cushions, lamps, curtains, paintings) in warm colors. To increase the feeling of intimacy and warmth, place small indirect lights (reading lamp or wall-mounted).

 

The Dining Room

As a place of conviviality for exchanges, the dining room should preferably be used regularly, so as not to make a dead room where energy does not circulate. Choose a round or oval table, the corners of a rectangular table are considered in Feng Shui as sharp arrows. If your table is square or rectangular, you can soften the corners by covering it with a tablecloth.

4
A Dining Room with Warm Decorations

 

Hang some positive pictures or symbols related to food and abundance, with bright and appetizing colors (no war scenes!), onto the walls of the dining room. A mirror that reflects the food on the table is also a sign of abundance and prosperity. On the cupboard or table, place a vase filled with fruit, nuts or other food (another sign of plenty).

 

Bedroom

Known as a place of sleep and healing, the room is a vital piece: we sleep a third of our lives! Its primary function is recovery, so it cannot be used as an office annex or storage space for everything that cannot be stored elsewhere.

The orientation of the bed is very important for a good sleep. The safest position is to place the headboard against a wall (north or east), with a view of the front door if possible. To avoid: the bed against a window or bay window because it gives creates a feeling of insecurity.

155343qe2w912n0z31b6e1
A comfortable and intimate room

 

Move everything away from the head of the bed that is reminiscent of work and stress: books, files, clocks, telephones if possible. Avoid mirrors, separate mattresses (symbol of division of the couple) and ventilate the room more often in order to renew the air of the room. Indirect lighting is also preferred (small bedside lamps, wall sconces) to central lighting.

 

 

 

 

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!

Painting with Wings: The Chinese Kite

Written by Juliette Qi

 

History of the First Kites in China

 

1
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.

2
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.

3
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.

H88A0096.MOV_20170216_155316.223

4_edited
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!

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.

1
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.

2_edited
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.

20171114_135102000_iOS
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.

 

 

3
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.

20171114_135210000_iOS
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.

1
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.

 

2
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

3
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.

1
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.

2
“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.

3
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.


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!

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

清明时节雨纷纷
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.

扫墓
The Visit of the Tombs of the Ancestors
扫墓 2
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.

家庭踏青
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.

风筝
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.

image002
Modern interior decoration with jade objects

 

image004
“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.

image006
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

 

image001
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.

image003
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.

image005
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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Fan of Literati  Front
image009
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.

image011
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).

image013
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.

1
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!