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!

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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.


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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.


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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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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.


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Kid’s Shoes with Tiger Head

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Tiger-headed shoes are an example of traditional Chinese folk crafts. These children’s fabric shoes feature a tiger at the tip and embroidered soles. Their name comes from their tip that looks like the head of a tiger. In northern China, people also call them “cat-headed shoes”. The wearing of these brightly colored cloth shoes with such special designs is a traditional custom for young Chinese people and symbolizes best wishes.

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In Chinese culture, tigers are considered auspicious and women embroider the toe as well as the upper part of the tiger-shaped shoe, in the hopes that their children will become as robust and vibrant as this animal. In addition, the bright image of the tiger’s head has been thought to chase away evil spirits and to protect children from diseases and disasters. It is a complicated job to make tiger-headed shoes and it requires a lot of delicate work like embroidery and weaving, especially on the tip of the shoe. The upper part of the shoe is mainly red and yellow and the craftswomen generally use thick lines to draw the outline of the mouth, the eyebrows, the nose and the eyes of the tiger to express its power of an exaggerated way.

Tancheng County, Linyi, Shandong Province (East China), December 24, 2017. Zhao Kaiying, 85, has been making tiger-headed shoes for more than 20 years.

 

These shoes, offered to the child from an early age, depict the head of a tiger on the front of them. A guardian animal and devourer of demons, the tiger protects the child against evil spirits. Other symbols are also embroidered under the shoe.

The origins of the tiger-headed shoe are not known, but there are several popular legends about them. (already mentioned in the paragraph above). One legend regarding their origin suggests that a long time ago, there was a lady with skillful hands and common sense. She was very good at embroidery, so that her child was always well dressed. One night a monster came to the village and took all the children, except his son. From then on, people began to realize that the child’s shoes that were decorated with a tiger’s head at their ends scared the monster, leaving the child safe. As a result, people started to imitate this practice. In the eyes of the general public, the tiger is a robust and powerful animal with the title of “king of animals”. So, when the tiger is mentioned, it evokes in people the idea of ​​power and fear. As a result, tiger-like expressions, such as the roar of the tiger, the frightening appearance of the tiger (Chinese: 虎威, pinyin: Huwei) or strength of a tiger (Chinese: 虎虎 有 生气, pinyin: huhuyoushengqi) have taken shape in these crafts as part of this culture around the tiger.

 

 

 

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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Jade in Chinese Culture

Written by Juliette Qi

 

It’s widely acknowledged that the hardness of the jade is remarkable. It has greater resistance than steel and has been used by many ancient civilizations in the production of axes, knives and weapons. Besides its practical uses, jade also became a symbolic stone used in ornaments and other religious objects.

 

The History of Jade in China

 

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Detailed Jade Pieces

 

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Jade Shroud, Prince Liu Xiu’s Tomb, Jade, Gold and Bronze, 182 cm, Western Han (202 BC-8), Hebei Provincial Museum

 

As early as 3000 BC, jade was known in China as “yu”, the “royal jewel”. In the long history of the art and culture of the Chinese empire, jade has always had a special symbolic meaning, comparable to that of gold and diamonds in the West. Jade was a special spiritual stone, used not only for precious decorative objects, but also as material for the funeral furniture of the imperial family. It is considered as a link between the physical and spiritual world, and it is the only material that encompasses both the qualities of yin and yang, of Heaven and Earth, which earns it the nickname “Stone of Heaven”. In ancient times, jade seemed also mysterious to the Chinese and that is why jade articles were common for sacrificial rites, often later buried with the dead. To preserve his body, Liu Sheng, the king of Zhongshan (113 BC) was buried in a suit consisting of 2,498 pieces of jade, sewn together with gold threads.

 

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Jade Dragon, Hongshan Culture (about 5000 BC)

 

The history of jade is as old as Chinese civilization. Archaeologists have found jade objects dating back to the early Neolithic period (around 5000 BC), from the Hemudu Culture in Zhejiang Province, and the middle and late Neolithic period, from the Hongshan Culture along Lao River, the Longshan Culture along the Yellow River, and the Liangzhu Culture in the Tai Lake area.

 

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Yu Xiao with Eight Holes in White Jade

 

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Yuxiao with Seven Holes

 

Jade can be cut and polished, turned into tools, ornaments, utensils and many other objects. There are several ancient musical instruments made from jade, such as the jade flute, the Yuxiao (a vertical flute) and the jade chime.

 

The Symbolism of Chinese Jade

 

The Chinese love jade not only because of its beauty, but especially because of its significance and the human virtues it represents. According to Confucius (551-479 BC), “there are 11 De (virtues) in the jade. ”

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“The wise man of high morality is gentle as jade” – Confucius

 

The sages have compared jade to human virtues. For them, its polished and brilliant surface represents absolute purity; its perfect compactness and extreme hardness ensure intelligence; its angles, which do not cut well and seem sharp, represent justice; the pure and prolonged sound which it makes as soon as it is struck represents the music. Its color represents fidelity; its interior defects, always revealing themselves by transparency, evoke sincerity; its iridescent brilliance represents the sky; its admirable substance, born from the mountain or the water, represents the earth. Used alone without ornament, it represents chastity. The price the whole world attaches to it represents truth. To illustrate these comparisons, there’s a saying that goes  “When I think of a wise man, I find his merits seem to be like jade.”

 

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Jade pendant for Han Clothing

 

Even today, this stone is considered as a symbol of goodness, beauty and preciousness. It embodies the Confucian virtues of wisdom, justice, compassion, modesty and courage. In conclusion, jade symbolizes beauty, nobility, perfection, constancy, power, and immortality in Chinese culture, past and present.

 

 

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!

Literati Painting

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The literati painting or wenrenhua (文人画) is a traditional style of painting in China, which despite taking its definitive form from the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1280 -1368), found its classical form with the artist-scholar Dong Qichang (1555-1636), under the name of the Southern School (南宗画). The literati painting was then adopted in Japan under the name of Bunjin-ga.

 

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Dong Qichang, Wanluan Thatch Lodge

 

The first characteristic of Chinese literati painting文人画 (wenrenhua), for the Western observer, is that it is a kind of (often monochrome) ink wash painting rather than an oil painting. But it makes use of all the subtle differences of the water-diluted ink to obtain infinite nuances. Applied to paper or silk, this painting technique does not use the Western perspective method: the effects of distance and foreground are achieved by the arrangement of proportions.

 

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Wang e, Room overlooking the River

 

When he develops his work in his silent study, realizing long-lasting feelings, or when he indulges in improvisation in front of amateurs, the Chinese scholar-painter always cherishes the long tradition and never disdains to work “in the manner of “the former masters. Generally he neglects portraiture and rejects realism, giving man only his rightful place in nature. Landscape painting山水and the painting of flowers and birds花鸟 are, along with bamboo, his favorite and privileged subjects.

 

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Bada Shanren, Lotus and bird
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Shitao, Le bateau

 

Under the Qing, literary painting continued to show remarkable vitality and originality, and many of the most famous artists no longer worked under any master: this was the case of the “crazy monks”, independent painters among which the most famous were Bada Shanren (1626-1705) and Shitao (1630-1707).

 

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The “Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou”

 

Facing the proliferation of talented artists in the Ming and Qing, Chinese historians have tried to divide them into schools like “The Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou” and “Four Wang”. In the nineteenth century, the creative momentum slowed down and the decline was is constant; many Chinese painters began turning to Western painting and the practice of oil painting. With the end of the empire, the model of scholar-painter also came to its end. Yet, a new type of artist-intellectual, innovative technically and artistically, had emerged from the earliest days of modern Chinese art.

 

 

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!

Silk Padded Applique Embroidery (II) – Seemingly Easy Three-Dimensional Embroidery

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

Silk padded applique embroidery is a decorative pattern made of fabrics. It is produced through a series of steps including embossing, weaving, embroidering, stitching, appliqueing, and silk-drawing. The choice of raw materials used in silk applique likewise shows great ingenuity and creativity. The main material for silk embroidery is called phoenix-tail yarn, since the color of this yarn is a gradient resembling the tail of a phoenix. The yarn is only produced in Beijing, and its beauty endures through time.

wKhQo1WjnW6EEjieAAAAAJpTZhw664.jpgSilk padded applique embroidery made of phoenix-tail yarn

If you are interested in making this handicraft, maybe today you will be greatly inspired by this lesson. Let’s find out how this 3D effect can be achieved. The steps of making silk padded applique embroidery include:

1466128088879.jpgSample drawing (left),                         Reflected sample drawing (right)

  1. Tracing

Put one piece of tracing paper above the sample drawing and one piece of carbon paper with a paperboard below the sample drawing. Trace the sample drawing with a pencil. The drawing will be transferred onto the paperboard.

  1. Drawing the boundaries

Specify the areas that will be covered by another layer of fabrics with shadows. These marked areas keep their raw edges for further attachment to a new layer.

  1. Marking the colors

Mark parts of the pattern with color-coding for different colored phoenix-tail yarns.

1466128088804.jpg

  1. Cutting the paperboard

Cut the paperboard along the black marking line. Make sure to leave the edges smooth.

1466128090124.jpg

  1. Pasting the cotton

Spread glue evenly on paperboard and glue cotton to the paperboard. Shape the cotton along the edge of the paperboards.

1466128089378.jpg

  1. Cutting yarn

Cut phoenix-tail yarn to corresponding color codes along the shape of paperboard. Leave a margin of 3 to 5 millimeters.

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  1. Forming the shape

Spread glue on the edge of the phoenix-tail yarn and hide the margin at the back of the paperboards.

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  1. Organizing the pattern

Place the petals in order and spread glue on the seam. Press the seam flat to set the fabrics.

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  1. Mounting

Glue the piece to a suitable baseboard. Frame the work.

It seems not so difficult after all, right? However, to make silk padded applique embroidery requires not only a pair of dexterous hands, but it also demands one to treat every detail and the position of layered fabrics with extreme care. Only in this way will the whole art piece be lively and vivid.

20170111134746ve6mxjsy3yzuowta.jpg!s700副本.jpgSilk padded applique embroidery: Characters from Eight Immortals

2013062312384655438505.jpgSilk padded applique embroidery of flowers

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!

Silk Padded Applique Embroidery(I) – The Once-Lost Hidden Gem of the Imperial Palace

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

Speaking of Chinese embroidery, what comes to your mind other than the famous four major styles? Do you know any other styles? Today I want to introduce a special kind of Chinese embroidery – silk padded applique embroidery. It is made of little bits of cloth of different colors, and together they form a brush and ink painting. The finished work is a colorful and well-arranged collage. It is a combination of hard textures like woodcuts and gentle textures like fabrics. This silk embroidery has a long history; since it was initially produced only within the imperial palace, it was also called imperial embroidery of cloth bits or imperial padded applique (宫廷补绣gongtingbuxiu in Chinese). A more popular name among the people would be: patchwork drawing or patchwork flowers or simply jacquard.

3f308a04-857a-4d4c-a43d-f20a081769e4.jpegImperial Embroidery “Flowerpot Shoes”

月季花蓝.jpgSilk Embroidery: Chinese Roses in A Basket

More than one thousand years ago in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), a rudimentary form of these techniques already existed in the Jingchu area (nowadays known as Hubei). For festive occasions, the local custom was to cut colorful silks into shapes of flowers and birds and put them up on screens or use them as headwear.

财神(布堆画).jpgPatchwork drawing: God of Wealth

This tradition was fully developed in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and transformed into a unique skill called silk sticker (贴绢 tiejuan in Chinese) and padded applique (堆绫 duiling in Chinese). Silk sticker is a patchwork made of a single layer of spun silk pieces, while padded applique consists of patterns made from multiple layers of silk and other fabrics. The latter, padded applique, was popular among the common people. For example, It was common to embroider patterns of mandarin ducks, Ruyi jade figures ((a filler word to keep all words in the list plural)), five-colored flowers and birds.

米色“纱贴绢”《桃树仙鹤图》乌木雕花柄团扇副本.jpg1.Beige silk gauze sticker “Peach Tree and Red-crowned Crane” with carved ebony moon-shaped fan, Qing dynasty ;  2.Beige silk gauze sticker “Flower and Butterfly” with blue painted and gold lined moon-shaped fan, Qing dynasty

During the Qing dynasty, the skills and techniques of padded applique reached their peak. Silk and other fabrics were well-selected and exquisite, and workmanship was more than excellent. The whole production strove for perfection at all costs.

堆绫项羽魏豹戏像册2副本.jpgProfile Pictures of Xiang Yu and Wei Bao in a Playbook, from Guangxu’s reign, Qing dynasty (1875-1908).

This playbook has blue satin as the base and a patchwork of satin, silk, damask silk and paperboard on the top. Each layer is stuffed, so that the characters would look fuller. The paillette used on clothes and the red pompon on the crown also make the figures vivid and lively. Their faces are painted with a brush to compensate for the inadequate artistic expression of padded applique. This playbook shows some novel techniques that are rare among padded applique embroideries as well as other embroidery works.

The padded applique technique spread to the Tibetan region and evolved into a new kind of Thangka. For example, among the collection at Yonghe Temple in Beijing, there is a piece called “Padded Applique of Green Tara,” which is listed as a class A national cultural heritage. It was made by Emperor Qianlong’s mother with help from maids in the imperial palace, and now this Tangka is already more than 200 years old.

www.gongmeigroup.com.cn.jpg“Padded Applique of Green Tara” consecrated by Qianlong’s mother, Empress Xiaoshengxian

Unfortunately, padded applique skills were lost for a period of time, and nobody knew how to make them for a long time. However, in the 1990s, after three years of careful studies, the Beijing Drawnwork Institute rediscovered this once-lost technique. The padded applique skill now has transcended its previous boundaries; new variations of padded applique such as painting, embossment, silk-drawing, and tufting have been created. The silk embroidery produced shows meticulous work and patterns displaying the national features of China.

7bac34e0c4eb43e08a88b1d3bfac57b4.jpgFrom the collection of Imperial padded applique embroideries – “Ode to Peace.” It pictures a peony surrounded by peace doves. Through this traditional imperial embroidery, we get a glimpse into the endless charm of the Chinese culture.

 

c77e13a5cb7e4043a5fa3f1f29bfa038副本.jpgDetails of “Ode to Peace”

So, what if I told you there is a secret behind this embroidery skill of padded applique, the fate of which is full of ups and downs? Would you be curious to hear what it is?

Or, perhaps you have seen it already? Well, I will unveil the secret to you in the next article!

 

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!