Category Archives: Chinese Carving Art

A Dixi Opera inheritor brings his craft to schools

Dixi Opera is a type of opera in Anshun of Guizhou province performed in open spaces instead of on a formal stage by actors wearing wooden masks. Developed in the early Ming Dynasty, it is actually a branch of Nuo Opera.

 Chinese opera

The opera was formerly used by farmers to pray for good weather and good harvests. When performing, the actor will wear a mask, cover his face with green yarn, hold swords and spears, and carry small flags on his back. The actor will sing, dance, and perform acrobatic fighting in time with the music.

 Chinese opera

The Anshun Dixi Opera was listed in the country’s first batch of intangible cultural heritage in 2006.

Gu Jiashun was born in a Dixi Opera family. His grandfather was the first national-level inheritor of Dixi Opera. Gu Jiashun grew up with his grandfather and began learning the opera at age 9.

 Chinese opera

Gu Jiashun has loved Dixi Opera since childhood and always hoped that Dixi Opera could be taught in schools. Finally, he opened a Dixi class for juniors in 2013 with his friends, to fulfill one of his grandfather’s last wishes. At the start, he faced strong pressure as some parents thought learning opera would affect their children’s study at school.

But gradually villagers recognized the value of the classes. Now Gu Jiashun holds Dixi Opera classes in several local schools.

“Dixi Opera plays a major part in the local culture, and I want people to be aware of this and be proud of our traditional cultural heritage,” Gu said.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

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“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 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, 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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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
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Clay figurines capture spirit of life

Working in clay may remind many Chinese people of their happy childhoods.

There are many different styles of clay-sculpting all over China, but Zhang Clay Figurine in Beijing is among the most famous practitioners of the art.

As the fourth generation in the family preserving the traditional technique, Zhang Chang, 71, bears the duty of sharing Chinese history.

Zhang Chang, 71, is the fourth generation of his family preserving the traditional techniques of making clay figurines.
 Chinese Crafts

“The ancestor of Chinese clay figurine-making is probably Nuwa,” he jokes, citing the goddess in ancient mythology who used clay to create human beings.

His family business can be dated back to the mid-19th century, when Zhang Mingshan, from Zhejiang province, settled in Tianjin. Craftsmen of the time absorbed Western painting elements into their art to create more vivid details. Though clay figurines were traditionally considered to be grassroots pieces, the delicately made art was soon cherished by royal families in Beijing, especially by the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908).

Zhang explains that he keeps adjusting his work until the clay has completely dried; sometimes the making of one piece will last as long as one year as Zhang seeks just the right mood.

Zhang, who is now an art professor at Tsinghua University, has compiled academic works to document the traditional craft.

Some of the pieces by Zhang Clay Figurine.
 Chinese Crafts

“The figurine-making conveys not only aesthetics and creativity, but experiences of life in society,” he says. “The inheritance of the skill in our family reflects a special spirit to guide generation after generation to find their way when chasing an art career.

“However, not everyone in the family will love the work. Only when they love it will they inject their personal feelings into the work. Figurines made by different people thus have different characteristics even though they follow the same discipline.”

Zhang says a person can usually learn the basics of figurine-making within three months, but much more practice is needed to perfect the art.

“Masters are only ushers at the gate, and each student needs to develop a personal understanding in their heart.”

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China

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

We 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 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, 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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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!

Luxuriant rosewood evokes imperial style

A legacy of old-time royal luxury, rosewood furniture is a living fossil of a privileged lifestyle.

 
 Chinese furniture

Rosewood carving, which turns fine material into exquisite artworks, is among the best gifts history has left China’s capital.

Most sandalwood is produced in tropical areas – little is grown in China. But the nation became the biggest repository of rosewood timber during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Zheng He’s historical expeditions in the early 15th century to Southeast and South Asia brought back large amount of the luxuriant wood to make furniture cherished by the emperors and nobles.

Rosewood was continuously shipped to China during that dynasty. Since a rosewood tree grows very slowly, only 15 percent of the timber is suitable for carving. The world’s sandalwood reserve was almost used up in the subsequent Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), ending a flourishing era of the art.

 
 Chinese furniture

Nevertheless, no matter how rare the material is, the craftsmanship is even more precious. Only the best artisans have been allowed to touch the fine timber because rosewood carving requires the most complicated technique among all woods and needs an extraordinary scrutiny of details, experts say.

People can still feel the classical flavor through these splendid pieces and enjoy this look at the past.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China

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

We 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 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, 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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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!

Chinese Jade

General Introduction

Jade has a history in China of at least four thousand years. Unknown to some, it is found contained within the development of religion and civilization, having moved from the use of decoration on to the others such as the rites of worship and burial. Although other materials like gold, silver and bronze were also used, none of these have ever exceeded the spiritual position that jade has acquired in people’s minds – it is associated with merit, morality, grace and dignity. In the funeral objects of the people of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD), for example, we can see only high officials were buried with jade articles.

 
 Chinese Jade

Jade has influenced all walks of life. In ancient times, people expressed abstract notions with concrete patterns of Chinese character, which were influenced by Taoism and Buddhism. Jade craftworks were among the most precious and luxurious ones; people wore and decorated rooms to indicate loyalty, elegance, beauty, and eternity. The most popular patterns were: peach (longevity), mandarin duck (love), deer (high official ranks), bat (blessing), fish (affluence), double phoenixes (thriving), bottle (safety), lotus (holiness), bamboo (lofty conduct), and fan (benevolence), etc.

Types of Jade

Jadeite

As early as the 16th century, it was believed to be a precious and hard jade with healing qualities for the human stomach and kidneys. Since it was brought into China during the early Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), it had been doted on greatly. It contains an iron component which appears red, chromium that appears green, and many other colored types. Known as the ‘king of jade’, it is usually a more expensive type.

 
 Chinese Jade

Nephrite Jade

Nephrite’s robustness is due to the fact it contains tremolite. It also can be divided into several sub-classifications according to color: white, grey, green, topaz, and black jade.

 
 Chinese Jade

In China, the most reputable jade producing area is Hetian in Xinjiang Province. Hetian jade is so hard that it can scratch glass. It has often been found in very huge pieces.

 
 Chinese Jade

Serpentine jade, or Xiu yu in Chinese, is mainly from Xiuyan County in Liaoning Province. Made of many different ingredients, it takes on various appearances: white, yellow, light yellow, pink, green, dark green, light green and so on. This type is usually coloured in various shades of green. Usually serpentine jade is semi-transparent or even opaque like wax.

 
 Chinese Jade

Lantian jade is produced in Lantian County, north of Xian in Shaanxi Province. It was also among the most charming ancient jades, for its rigidity made it easier to be carved into decorations and jewelry by our ancestors. The hue is uneven in colors of yellow or light green.

 
 Chinese Jade

Nanyang County in Henan Province is famous for its abundant Nanyang jade. The ore district is located on an isolated 200 meter high hill, called Dushan Hill (thus its other name of ‘Dushan jade’). It is distinctive for its whimsicality. Among the Nanyang jade artworks, you will find rare purple, blue and red ones.

How to Appreciate and Maintain Jade

Experts believe that, although more expensive, diamonds and gold cannot be compared with jade – it is animated with a soul. They often buy to collect their favorite jade artworks, while people with little knowledge may buy coarse works.

To obtain a real jade article, you should take pains to learn and appreciate it. The criteria lie in the brightness of color and luster, compactness of inner structure, and the delicacy of the craftwork. For example, nephrite creates an oily luster and jadeite creates a vitreous luster. Tiny cracks can lower its value; on real one, air bubbles cannot be seen; the more lenitive the higher quality of jade, and so on.

Having purchased a jade article is just half the process of collecting. It is like a child that needs constant care. Enthusiasts need to work more to maintain this artwork, or blemishes may appear.

First, avoid bumping into hard surfaces as it is delicate. Although sometimes a crack cannot be seen by the naked eye, the interior structure may have been damaged. As time goes on, it will appear and reduce the value of the piece.

Second, protect it from dust or greasy dirt. If tainted, they must be scrubbed with a soft brush and light suds and washed with clean water.

Third, when left unused it is best to store it in a case or box to protect it from being bumped.

Fourth, it should be kept away from perfume, perspiration or chemicals. Its brightness risks corrosion, especially emerald and other high quality jade, so it is better to clean it with a soft cloth after wearing it.

Fifth, do not expose it to sunlight for a long time, or it may expand and the quality will change slightly.

Finally, jade has certain water content so keep it in an area of humidity to protect it from over-drying.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China

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

We 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 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, 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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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!

Dongyang Wood Carving

Dongyang, a city in the middle of Zhejiang Province near Shanghai, is famous for its woodcarving. It is one of the major centers of woodcarving production from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties to the present day. Woodcarving in Dongyang has a long history and was named after its place of origin, Dongyang.

History

Dongyang woodcarving had already developed to a certain level by the Tang Dynasty(618-907), but was most prosperous in the last two feudal dynasties — the Ming(1368-1644)and the Qing(1644-1911).

The magnificent woodcarvings can be found in the imperial palaces in Beijing, Suzhou City, Hangzhou City and Anhui Province. During the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong(1711-1799), over 400 craftsmen came to the capital of Beijing to decorate the palaces and carve the lanterns. Those woodcarving articles are still kept in Gugong, the Imperial Palace in Beijing.

 
 Dongyang wood carving

After 1910, many carvers from Dongyong gathered in Shanghai and Hangzhou to produce export-oriented furniture and utensils combining Chinese and Western styles. Since the founding of the PRC, highly artistic frescoes and screens appeared on the market with the rapid development of technology. These works, focusing on historical stories and folk legends were designed using the ‘full carving’ technique, which formed a unique artistic style.

 
 Dongyang wood carving

In 1957, a 19-meter high wooden statue of Sakyamuni Buddha was sculpted for the main hall of Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou. In 1983, Dongyang City was named “the hometown of Chinese woodcarving” by the state council.

Features

The artistic forms of Dongyang woodcarving with distinct gradations and superb carving technology are unique in the handicraft and art fields.

 
 Dongyang wood carving

Dongyang woodcarving, also called “white woodcarving” (white is the natural color of the wood) is second to none in terms of Chinese crafts. In terms of techniques, Dongyang woodcarving features a high relief, multi-layers, and a rich composition of pictures, presenting a third dimension, full yet in neat order.

Dongyang woodcarving emphasizes relief skill; uses the traditional experience of a discreet, bird’s-eye perspective of the structure; stresses round composition; considers dispersion and multiplicity without looseness or disorder. Moreover, it has other features such as distinct gradations, obvious subjects and expressive plots which often help to tell a larger story.

 
 Dongyang wood carving

Dongyang woodcarving is mainly used to decorate houses and furniture with mainly realistic depictions of galloping horses, cranes, lotus flowers and human figures.

Nowadays, the assortment of Dongyang woodcarving products amount to more than 2,700 varieties, most of which — covering ninety percent of total output value — are daily wares such as cases, cabinets, stools, desks and tables. They are exported to over 50 countries and regions, while involving thousands of craftsmen in that industry.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China

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

We 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 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, 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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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!

Beijing Craved Lacquer Ware

Known as one of the “three treasures of Chinese arts and crafts” along with Hunan embroidery and Jiangxi Jingdezhen porcelain, Bejing carved lacquer Ware is famous throughout the world for its unique techniques and detailed carvings.

Beijing lacquer

Origin

Beijing’s carved lacquer ware is one of China’s traditional arts and crafts. Originated in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Beijing carved lacquer is a traditional form of Chinese art that has existed for at least 1,400 years. It used to be made only for the royal family.

Feature

The lacquer ware is simple and unsophisticated in shape with cinnabar luster, delicate in engraving and characterized by anti-dampness, heat-resistance, endurance of acid and alkali corrosion.

Beijing lacquer

More than thirty different kinds of goods were traditionally produced, including everyday items such as vases, plates, boxes and jars, and decorative objects such as screens.

Beijing lacquer

In the past they were made in only four colors, but the number of colors has increased to over 20 today. Older pieces are invariably monochrome, but polychrome pieces are now being produced. Nevertheless, the traditional dark red monochrome ware is still the most common.

Beijing lacquer

Carving techniques include relief and fretwork. The carving is delicate and precise, and often achieves a three-dimensional effect. Lacquer ware is prized for its lasting qualities, the result of the painstaking procedures used in its creation.

Technique

Beijing carved lacquer ware requires a complicated manufacturing process, which starts with a brass or wooden body. After preparation and polishing, it is coated with several dozen of layers of lacquer, reaching a total thickness of 5 to 18 millimeters. Engravers have to wait for the lacquer to dry naturally so it won’t crack in the future. Then, engravers will cut into the hardened lacquer, creating “carved paintings” of landscapes, human figures, flowers and birds. It is then finished by drying and polishing. The whole making process is rather complex and time consuming. It usually takes at least 6-8 months to finish a piece of carved lacquer ware. The resulting lacquer is waterproof, looks noble and elegant, and its color never fades.

Beijing lacquer

The carved lacquer has once won the prizes home and abroad for many times. It was once awarded the first prize in World Expo held in Panama in 1915 and has become reputed in the world market ever since.

However, nowadays, the ancient industry is on the brink of extinction. The complicated manufacturing process and the high production cost have resulted in the high price of the carved lacquer ware, and consequently a decreasing demand for it on the market. The Beijing carved lacquer ware industry has seen a rapid decrease since the 1980s. Young people are reluctant to learn the skills of lacquer-carving, and many elders in the business have passed away. by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”
We co-founded Interact China in 2004, specialize in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic people and Han Chinese. With direct partnership with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with our 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bring you direct finely selected aesthetic products sourced across China, in reliable quality and delivery, at reasonable price. We prefer individualization and personalized over standardized and automation, and will use our heart, as always, to serve ethnic artisans, cultural heritage successors, affectionate tailors and designers, as well as people who fond of and appreciate Oriental aesthetic.
  So far we carry 2000+ goods covering 10 categories in Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Musical Instruments, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks, Painting Arts, Textile Arts and Carving Arts. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers wherever they locate.
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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!

   

Shadow Puppet Play The Precursor of Modern Movie

Shadow play is taken as an earliest ancestor of modern cinema; the unique artistic value makes it be reserved from the ancient time. It is a kind of drama in which silhouettes made of ox, sheep, donkey or other animal leathers are projected onto a white screen. The performer plays the characters behind the screen while singing the libretto to tell the story.

shadow puppet


History of Shadow puppet play

The Shadow puppet play has a history of over 2000 years, which originated during the Han Dynasty (B.C 202 – A.D 220) when one of the concubines of Emperor Wu died. The emperor was so devastated that ignored the affairs of state, and he summoned his court officers to bring his beloved back to life. The officers got an idea and made a shape of the concubine using donkey leather. Her joints were animated using 11 separate pieces of the leather, and adorned with painted clothes. Using an oil lamp they made her shadow move, bringing her back to life. After seeing the shadow puppet play, Emperor Wu began to recover. Then the love story was recorded in the book of “The History of the Han Dynasty”.

shadow puppet

The Shadow puppet play began to become quite popular in Song Dynasty (A.D 960 – A.D 1234). During the Ming Dynasty (A.D 1368 – A.D 1644) there were 40 to 50 shadow puppet play troupes in Beijing. In the late 13th century, Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271 – A.D1368), the shadow show became a recreation in the barracks of the Mongolian troops. It was spread by the conquering Mongols to distant countries like Persia, Arabia, Turkey and other Southeastern Asian countries.


Shadow Puppet Play in China

The shadow puppet is the wisdom of Chinese artists, and it is also a popular handiwork in China. It is widely spread in most regions in China, except Tibet and Xinjiang, with different styles of shadow puppet play in different places. However, the characters shaping and performance skills are all quite exquisite, with play themes including the Chinese ancient magic, myths, religions, monarchs, legal cases, wars, as well as talented scholars and pretty ladies, the secular life and etc.

shadow puppet

The shadow play was the earlier form of Chinese Cartoon, and to perform a great shadow play is no easy task for it takes considerable expertise in the fine arts, often requiring artists to perform multiple skills at once.

Nevertheless, performers find it rewarding because it brings the audience a lot of happiness. The major problem now is that the audience is aging fast, and the vast majority of young people do not really understand the ancient art form.


Shadow Puppet Play in other Countries

shadow puppet

The show began to spread to Europe in the mid 18th century, when French missionaries to China took it back to France in 1767 and put on performances in Paris and Marseilles, causing quite a stir. In time, the ombres chinoises, with local modification and embellishment, became the ombres francaises and struck root in the country.

At present, more than 20 countries are known to have shadow show troupes.

The principle methods of shadow performance adopted by the shadow puppet played an important leading role in the invention of the modern movie and the development of the movies and cartoons. Nowadays, the Chinese shadow puppet plays have been collected by the museums of many countries in the world. Meanwhile they are the best souvenir given by Chinese government officials to their foreign guests.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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