Liu Xiaodong and Chinese Neorealist painting

By Emma Marler

The Neorealism movement lies on the need of artists to represent reality as it is, without embellishments or abstractions. As Zhang Xiaoming, head of Chinese contemporary art at Sotheby’s New York, puts it: “Neorealists look at everyday life subjects, but glorify them.” 

Xuzi at Home (2010), oil on canvas – Liu Xiaodong

In Italy for example, Neorealism was a response to the huge changes the two World Wars brought about in daily life and society. In China, Neorealist painters tried to capture reality as everything in the country was changing drastically and developing at high speed. During the Cultural revolution, a realistic style of painting served propaganda purposes and political agendas.

Cultural Revolution Propaganda Poster (1966-1976)

Since the 1980s, Chinese Neorealist painters chose to depict urban and rural snippets of daily life without any filter, they just depicted exactly what they saw and felt.

Liu Xiaodong is one of the most talented and famous artists in the Neorealist scene. According to world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaodong “presents the wounds” of China. He always works on large scale canvases, perhaps to give even more reality to his subjects. His paintings are always carefully constructed and he often uses sitters to pose for his scenes.

Out of Beichuan, into Taihu (2010) – Liu Xiaodong

One of his most significant series of paintings was The Hotan project. He decided to go to the town Hotan in Xinjiang where jade has been extracted and produced for centuries. The environment has completely changed due to human intervention. He spent a month there, talking to locals and learning the backstories of the place before starting to paint. In the next two pictures you can see his process of en plein air painting, from the backstage to the finished product.

Liu Xiaodong at work
South (2012), oil on canvas

Another subject that is often represented in his paintings is the condition of migrant workers. Disobeying the Rules is a crude image of naked workers on a truck, expressing the artist’s concern for working conditions since China’s development and industrialisation. The workers are looking straight at the viewer and smiling, showing their optimism even in such a humiliating condition.

Disobeying the Rules (1963), oil on canvas

This painting sold at auction for 6 million euros! Liu shot this picture in Beijing and then added his own spin to the narrative to make the scene more impactful and shock viewers, forcing them to think about this pressing social issue.

As his works became internationally appreciated, he focused on new subjects and places. His method is always the same: he talks to locals and then starts painting. His Half street series had Londoners as protagonists.

White Pub (2013)

What makes him so unique is his ability to paint people in a sincere and touching way. The subjects of his works always seem to come to life while you stare at them.

Shu Jun with his Chubby Son (2010)

The way Vinci Chang, head of sales for 20th-century Chinese art and Asian contemporary art at Christie’s Hong Kong,  sums up Neorealism is truly to the point. He describes Neorealist works as “rich, moving depictions of the feel of daily life and they examine with a humanitarian eye the unaffected simplicity and beauty of local scenes”.


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 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, 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!

Calming Chinese Calligraphy

Written by Sean Callahan 

Calligraphy has been a central part of Chinese art for thousands of years. Emperors treasured it and those who wrote the most exceptional pieces were often rewarded with high-ranking positions and riches. However, despite the external pressure calligraphers must have felt, they had to stay centred and let their emotions flow through their brush.  

Photo by Marco Zuppone on Unsplash

The sereneness contained in the brush strokes of calligraphy is not only of great value to an admirer of calligraphy but also hold great promise for serving as a form of meditative relief for the calligraphers themselves. 

Emotion in Calligraphy 

One of the most highly treasured Chinese calligraphic pieces is Yan Zhenqing’s Requiem to My Nephew. Yan Zhenqing wrote the piece upon hearing of his nephew’s death at the hands of enemy soldiers. In the throes of passion, Yan channelled his passion into ink and wrote the now-famous ode to his nephew. 

Yan’s artistic running script seems to mirror the man’s emotions. An observer can see his script starts out measured and orderly before devolving into a blur of rapid, almost fanatical, strokes. The evolution of Yan’s calligraphy within this one piece gives us insight into the depths of his bereavement. His inability to stay composed for a single sitting shows that writing calligraphy is not a process devoid of emotion; rather, it is a visible, permanent, testament to emotion.

What the Science Says 

Multiple scientific studies back up the idea that calligraphy is highly intertwined with emotion. Practitioners of calligraphy often see their heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure fall while writing: all effects also seen in the calming practice of meditation. The writing of calligraphy has also been shown to have positive effects on the concentration abilities of young children.  

While calligraphy is by no means a catch-all antidote to the stresses of life, there is little doubt of its positive effects on our bodies and minds.  

How People are Using Calligraphy to Calm 

Companies and organizations are starting to catch on to the revitalized interest in calligraphy and have begun to offer classes in which participants can learn calligraphy techniques and how to use them in a meditative setting.  

These classes are undoubtedly useful and convenient for many beginner-level calligraphers, but one need only to walk through a park in China to see that these companies are behind the curve in many respects. Calligraphy is a popular pastime of retired people in China—they take a bucket of water and a mop-like writing instrument outside and display their calligraphic talents on the sidewalk. These sidewalk artists often spend hours enjoying the motions and aesthetic of their writing. 

Maybe we should all follow their lead during this stressful time and turn to Chinese calligraphy to calm ourselves. 

About Interact China 

Shape

“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 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well-positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, 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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Wu Guanzhong: a Fusion of Western and Oriental Painting

By Emma Marler

Wu Guanzhong is one of the most well renowned contemporary Chinese artists in the world. His paintings are now sold by prestigious auction houses such as Christie’s for hundreds of thousands of dollars. What makes him so special compared to other talented artists of his time is his use of colour, deeply influenced by European modernism. His works combine traditional Chinese ink techniques with Western oil painting. He liked to describe himself as ‘a snake swallowing an elephant,’ — the snake symbolising the Chinese artist in him, the elephant representing Western influence.

Wu Guanzhong photographed by Chua Soo Bin in 1988

Wu Guanzhong’s life was in many ways fascinating. He was  born in 1919 in Jiangsu province in a modest but educated family. His father was a school teacher and hoped that Wu would follow his steps. But fate had something else planned for him.  He dropped out of his engineering course at university to attend the National Hangzhou Academy of Art. He studied under the guidance of important artists such as Lin Fengmian, often considered the father of Chinese modern painting.

Lin Fengmian, Willow Scenery, ink and colour on paper, 1960s

The years that defined the most his later career and success were those spent in Paris. He studied for 3 years at one of the most prestigious academies in France. He greatly admired Post-Impressionists such as Van Gogh, Pissarro and Cézanne. His study abroad trip also made him appreciate formalism, an style of expression that favours the purely visual aspects of an artwork rather than its narrative or accuracy to the real world. Wu would later apply this principle to his art and push the boundaries of form and colour.

The Hua mountains at sunset, ink and colour on paper, 1997

When he came back from France, he taught at several Beijing universities and academies until his life changed drastically in 1966. Because of the Cultural Revolution, his wife and him were sent to the countryside to work in the fields. He could not paint during this time and had to destroy most of the oil paintings he had done after his trip to Europe.

But when ten years later Wu went back to painting, he did not immediately start using oil colours again, instead he used ink wash painting. Wu was ready to revolutionize this ancient technique. As he put it “brush-and-ink is misunderstood as being the only choice for life and the future path of Chinese painting, and the standards of brush-and-ink painting are used to judge whether any work is good or bad.” He mixes black ink with colours.

Guo Xi, Early Spring, ink on paper, 1072

He takes inspiration from famous traditional painters like Guo Xi. Let’s take a look at the following artwork. Even though Wu depicts a mountainous setting and a waterfall like in “Early Spring”, the results are completely different. Wu dilutes ink to make it grey and uses black just for some details, and leaves plenty of space to play with colour. With just a few visible brush strokes he skilfully paints the scene, just like Impressionists.

Plunge waterfall at Tiantai mountain, inkn and colour on paper

In later work, his Western studies and oil-painting background show through even more. He distances himself from traditional Chinese painting in two ways. Firstly, his subjects become more and more abstract. His portrayal of the Lion Grove Garden in Hangzhou has been compared to Pollock’s work, his use of colour and form can be assimilated to Abstract Expressionism. Unlike Chinese painting, colours here are used in a non-referential way, i.e. they do not reflect reality. The splotches of colour in this and other paintings are an example of this.

Lion Woods, ink and colour on paper, 1983
Jackson Pollock, Number 1, oil on canvas, 1949

The second way he differs from traditional Chinese painters is the choice of the subjects of his painting. Inspired by the geometrical lines of Mondrian, architecture becomes central in his works. To a Western eye this probably does not seem like such an experimental move. However, in traditional compositions elements of architecture were always just small details in a vast natural landscape.

Twin Swallows, ink and colour on paper, 1981

The minimalism and attention to perspective of “Twin Swallows” were ground-breaking at the time. The only detail that provides an idea of the scale are the two birds flying over the houses.

Zhouzhuang, oil on canvas, 1997

His style of painting is in continuous evolution. When it comes to architecture, he loves experimenting. He can be a realist and paint Zhouzhuang village exactly as it is or he can immerse himself into abstraction, like in “Chinatown”.

Chinatown, ink and colour on paper, 1993

As the tenth year of Wu Guanzhong’s death approaches in June, it is important to celebrate one of the greatest painters of our time. He did not only push the boundaries of Chinese traditional painting, but also had a significant impact on the way the Western art world viewed Chinese painting.


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 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, 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!

Cai Guo-Qiang: The Gunpowder Artist

By Tom Booth

When you hear the word ‘gunpowder’ what images immediately spring to mind? Perhaps you think of old-fashioned cannons and shot loaded on pirate ships. Or perhaps you think of firework displays such as those at New Year parties around the world. Or maybe you think of the novelty gunpowder snaps that make a satisfying CRACK! when thrown against the floor.

Ceremonial firing of cannons in Malta.

You probably haven’t considered the possibility of gunpowder as fine art to be displayed in museums and art galleries. But that is exactly the way Cai Guo-Qiang produces his works, which are displayed around the world in the most prestigious art galleries and museums.

A display of Cai’s gunpowder artistry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, US.

First, a little background about gunpowder in China. The first reference to gunpowder was in the 9th century AD in the Tang dynasty (618-907) and it was first used in warfare in the early 10th century. Some say that gunpowder was originally developed in an attempt to create an alchemical mixture to provide eternal life. This myth is reflected in the Chinese word for gunpowder, huo yao 火药, which means ‘fire medicine.’ By the 11th and 12th centuries gunpowder had become a staple part of warfare in China. It was also around this time that it began to be used for less violent purposes such as fireworks and entertainment.

Chinese cannon on Juyongguan Pass.

The artist Cai Guo-Qiang also has an interesting background. He started his artistic career following in the footsteps of his father, a renowned calligrapher, and thus adopted a style that was close to traditional Chinese calligraphic and ink-wash art. However, he felt the form limited his creative energy, and thus drew inspiration from Western oil painting on canvas, before eventually incorporating gunpowder into his works.

Cai shown here in his studio, assessing a recently produced piece of art.

The paradox of gunpowder as both a constructive and a destructive force is integral to Cai’s vision for his gunpowder artwork. He saw gunpowder as a way to reduce his own control over the canvas, thus creating artistic impressions that were intimately connected to nature and the natural form.

Gunpowder and explosions in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.

Cai creates paintings and drawings out of gunpowder by orchestrating carefully controlled explosions onto canvas. A small amount of gunpowder is added onto the canvas, along with a variety of metals, and then a protective sheet is layered over the top. The gunpowder is then detonated: the finished result is only seen once the protective layer has been removed. This video demonstrates how Cai is able to create large and expressive pieces of art using this technique.

The production of the artwork is in itself a performing art. The drama and excitement generated by the detonation of the gunpowder draws huge crowds. Cai has increasingly done larger and more daring projects using his patented gunpowder art. Perhaps most famous is his sky ladder, which uses gunpowder to create a ladder that stretches hundreds of meters into the sky. Check this video for an idea!

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Cai’s artwork is not only his ability to re-define what is considered ‘art’ but also what is considered ‘gunpowder.’ His art proves that gunpowder is not only a force for destruction such as in war and conflict but can also be used in a constructive and reconstructive manner. It all depends on what purpose it is used for, and who is using it. In the hands of a great artist like Cai, the result is undeniably creative and astonishingly beautiful.


About Interact China 

Shape

“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 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, 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! 

Du Hua: The Art of Reading Chinese Landscape Paintings

By Tom Booth

For those interested in art and paintings approaching Chinese landscape paintings can often be a daunting challenge. For starters, Chinese landscape paintings are extremely long; so long in fact that they are normally painted on long scrolls that, once unfurled, are several metres in length. They also contain an exceptional amount of detail; trees are adorned with individually painted branches and leaves, and people are distinguished from one another by minute detailing on their clothes and appearance. All in all, a first glance at a Chinese landscape painting can be quite overwhelming, and this often pushes people away from studying the paintings more closely.

Chinese landscape painting may look at first like random brush strokes, but in fact each stroke is carefully considered by the master painter. 

In Chinese, the practice of analysing and deciphering a painting is called du hua 读画 or the art of ‘reading’ a painting. Hopefully this blog post can help de-mystify Chinese landscape paintings so they can be ‘read’ and appreciated by a wider audience.

This short blog post will focus on one of the most famous Chinese landscape paintings of all time: ‘Along the River During the Qingming Festival’ or Qingming Shanghe Tu 清明上河图. This painting was painted during the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD) by Zhang Zeduan (1085-1145 AD) and is thought to depict a fantastical version of Kaifeng city, the capital of the Northern Song dynasty. The original is kept in the Palace museum in Beijing and is brought out only on special occasions every few years. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest pieces of artwork ever produced in China, and is celebrated as a national treasure. 

The Qingming Festival scene is so special that it has been produced and reproduced many times over. Here is a reproduction on a scroll that is sold commercially. 

When looking at the painting it is important to try to capture the feeling that you are visiting the festival from the countryside. We start by looking at the far right side of the painting, and slowly move our way left towards the city. 

Our first scene is in the countryside just outside the city. The houses are primitive with thatched roofs and the only people are farmers driving their livestock along the narrow roads. 

As we move closer to the city we see more signs of habitation. In the background are fields growing crops, and in the foreground we can see people buying and selling goods. There are also some small commercial ships in a make-shift harbour, suggesting a small amount of commercial activity. The houses now have tiled roofs, indicating greater sophistication. 

These small commercial vessels soon give way to much larger Chinese junks and a fully-fledged port. Horse and carriage rumble by in the background, and many people are engaged in moving and organising the ships. 

Just a little further we come to the main bridge leading to Kaifeng city. This is the centre of the scene, and is the site of most activity. It is abuzz with people moving to and fro: there are a huge number of people pushing past each other while others attempt to peddle business to the growing crowds. We can see a crowd of people shouting from the edge of the bridge as a boat risks crashing into the bridge. One can really sense the drama and excitement! 

Eventually we reach the main city gates. Carts pulled by horses are pouring through the gates; we can even see exoctic camels, reflecting the multiculturalism of Song China. 

Through the gates we can see a bustling inn, crowded with people eating and drinking. Energy radiates from the scene and makes one feel like they are there themselves! 

By stepping into the shoes of an imaginary visitor to Kaifeng and the Qingming festival the painting itself becomes a kind of story. We walk through the countryside, past the harbour and along the suburbs. We cross the bridge where the main drama of the painting is unfolding, and we finish by entering the main gates on the far left of the scene. By reading from right to left and breaking the painting into distinct sections the narrative quality of the painting is much more clear and ‘reading’ the painting becomes a much less overbearing task!


About Interact China 

Shape

“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 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, 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! 

Silk Crossroads: Chinese Brocade in The World

Written by Maria Giglio

Ever wondered where all that Shakespearian costume vibes that Brocade shoes evoke come from? Well that’s an interesting journey.

Back in Renaissance, Italian folks went crazy about silk brocade. As a matter of fact, the English word brocade derives right from the Italian word broccato (interestingly sharing roots with the word broccoli!) to refer to the embossed (broccus means sprout in latin) effect produced on the surface by the weaving technique. However, brocade carries far more remote origins than Italian renaissance, dating back to the Chinese warring states period (around the 5th Century B.C), a time when the silk-secret had not been unravelled yet.

The character Jin (锦), used to compose the Chinese name for Brocade Zhī jǐnduàn (织锦缎) literally means golden dragonfly and refers to the noble texture of the fabric which originally was refined with gold and silver filigree which nowadays are replaced by copper or alluminium powder. Silk brocade features a unique colourful pattern, usually displaying flowers and nature, the distinctiveness of which is given by an irresistible tri-dimensional effect.

But first, the technical stuff

Brocade is not an independent but an auxiliary weaving technique used to ornate the main fabric with a carving effect. It is usually realised on a draw loom, where the basic design is created on multiple wefts (continuous brocade) while extra inlay effect is created with a supplementary weft (non-continuous brocade).

Chinese Brocade styles: the ones to watch

Chinese silk brocade has a long, established tradition. Mentions of silk brocade can be found in the Book of Songs, the oldest known collection of classic Chinese poetry (11th-7th Century B.C.). During the 1980s, pieces of brocade were retrieved at the Chu tombs of Warring States Period in Hubei Province.  Brocade varies from region to region, and many minorities have their own peculiar weaving style. Amongst the all, Yun, Shu and Song brocade are the most ancient and renowned types. To give an idea, Yun brocade developed over 1580 years ago during the Yuan Dynasty and is the most prestigious because of the use of gold and silver foil in weaving.

Shu brocade, coming from Sichuan and flourished between Han and Tang dynasties (3rd Century BC to 10th Century A.D.) is recognised worldwide as a textile gem, being characterised by a strong predominance of red.

Finally, Song brocade originates from Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province, the homeland of silk and reached its peak of popularity during the Song Dynasty because of its soft texture and the bright colourful design.

Today, Chinese silk brocade is acclaimed worldwide as a cultural relic. In 2006, Yun, Song and Shu brocade were enlisted in the national intangible heritage.

An intriguing history of weft and theft 

Although silk textiles have been extremely popular in the Western world since Ancient Greece and Roman Empire, where they were being exported via the Silk Road, the Chinese Empire managed to keep the secret of silk production for over 30 centuries, which secured a China’s monopoly on the textile’s trade.

It was under Byzantine Empire that the secret of sericulture was finally revealed to the world. According to the legend, in 550 A.D. two monks sent by Emperor Justinian to discover how silk was made, stole mulberry cocoon, silkworm and eggs and brought them back to Constantinople.

Chinese influence on Italian fashion history

After the disclosure of sericulture to the world, the commercial relations between West and East slowly declined, and by the end of the 14th century, brocade production was not an Oriental prerogative anymore. In Italy, the cultural fervour characterised by a pursuit of beauty and perfection during Renaissance, favoured the evolution of silk weaving techniques and the elevation of textile artisanry to a form of art, contributing to the establishment of Italy as a fashion sanctuary.

Long-lasting cultural interweaving

Sometimes we think of fusion as a concept that belongs to our modern times. Every culture claims its own, unique, virgin identity. And in part that is certainly true. But the fascinating history of humanity tells us something slightly different. Without interaction, there is no inspiration. Without inspiration, there is no progress. What if the silkworm had never slithered out the Silk road?

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 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, 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!

Ikat, the ancient art of cloud weaving

Written by Maria

Feeling blue today? If you know what Ikat is, you may agree that it is not necessarily a bad thing. Coming from the Malay-Indonesian word mengikat (to tie), Ikat is an ancient textile art particularly diffused in Southeast Asia, particularly in China, Indonesia and Thailand.

The technique is complex and time-consuming, mainly consisting in dyeing the cotton yarns before weaving.

Named after such technique, the Ikat fabric can come in a variety of colours and patterns, although one of the most popular variations is the blue-patterned one. Ikat weavers use pigments of indigo, the local plant which famously gives the characteristic colour to denim, to obtain the particularly dense, sky-like blue. This is probably why in Persia Ikat technique is known as abr brandi, which literally means tying the clouds.

Origins

Although its origins are highly debated, Ikat is probably one of the most ancient and unique textile techniques of Asia. The earliest historical record was found in China and dates back to the 6th Century, though there is track that the technique has been used in India at least since the 7th century and developed in other Asian Countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.

Surprisingly, Ikat has also widely flourished in Latin American countries such as Peru and Guatemala since ancient times, where it developed independently of the Eastern world.

Ikat was brought to Europe by Dutch and Spanish explorers from Asia and Latin America during Colonialism, started in the 7th Century.

The traditional patterns of Ikat used to be entrenched of spiritual meaning. In particular, Ikat used to be a symbol of wealth. Until recent times, in Southeast Asia only aristocrats were allowed to wear Ikat fabric. The rule, also sanctioned with death punishment, slowly disappeared because of the colonialist pressures to trade and diffuse the product abroad, which led to its largest diffusion in the 20th Century.

Process

Just like batik and tie-dye, Ikat is obtained with a resist-dyeing method, mainly by controlling the colour spread so that it does not reach all the fabric. The purpose is to create the patterns out of the contrast between coloured and uncoloured areas.

The difference between Ikat and other famous resist-dyeing techniques like Batik or Tie-dye, is that dyeing is applied before and not after weaving. First, the design is marked onto the yarns. Then, the unmarked areas are then tied with rubber, wax or other materials, to avoid that the colour penetrates them.

The yarns are then dyed with the use of a straw. Finally, the yarns are untied and woven in the loom. Dyeing is fundamental to the creation of the patterns. A variation of Ikat is double Ikat, where both the warp and the weft are dyed.

If you want to know more about Ikat, watch the following video to see how ikat is made! https://youtu.be/3OAnnvPEOl8

If you have fallen in love with Ikat, please have a look on our new sleek line of blue scarves on InteractChina.com. Enjoy!

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 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, 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!

Lacquered Handicrafts and their Maintenance

Written by Juliette Qi

 

It is in China that we found the first uses of lacquer, nearly 1000 years BC and today it is one of the most representative materials of Asia. Lacquer is a resin extracted from a tree called the lacquer tree (there are several varieties). Several layers are applied, sometimes tens of layers, on the surface of the wares(funds means surface ) generally prepared. Its beauty comes from its smooth and pleasant feel and the look of depth created by its slight translucency.

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Lacquer is harvested from the sap of the lacquer tree: an incision is made on the bark at the base of the tree, a container is placed underneath it and is filled with sap. The sap is very sticky and shiny. The process is long and inefficient. The lacquer process from start to finish is an essential component of Asian culture. The realization of a lacquered object requires a lot of time and patience, it follows extremely meticulous and careful steps.

console-chinoise-un-tiroir-laque-noire To learn more about the history of this craft and its artisans, I recommend you watch this documentary “THE GREAT SHOKUNIN”:

 

Pearl lacquer Chinese furniture

The characters and decorations in nacre (mother-of-pearl) are composed of several elements that must be arranged and assembled according to the characteristics of the material piece of furniture itself (I mean in order as in in the right pattern), such as a Chinese curved entry piece. The sense of detail is very important for the decoration of mother-of-pearl elements. Mainly women are chosen for this job which requires a lot of attention to detail. Here, a Chinese piece of furniture that is covered with mother-of-pearl.

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The different colors and pigments are arranged to color the nacre. When we look at the equipment used in the fabrication, we’ll find it is far from an industrial process, rather the highest quality of local craftsmanship in the most noble sense of the word. For example, the lacquered jewelry boxes concentrate a lot of techniques onto a small surface.

 

Maintain Your Lacquered Objects

To use and keep your lacquered objects for a long time, we have put together the following set of special tips for you:

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  • Never place the object near a heat source or in a place that is too cold
  • Maintain it with a non-aggressive foam cleaner (like a foam cleaner? Yes, and can you replace the Franch Brand with some American Brand if that make more sense?) such as O’Cedar or Pliz (available in supermarkets)
  • Wipe only with a soft cloth slightly dampened with fresh water
  • Keep the object away from sharp objects or cutting objects
  • Lacquered vases cannot hold water
  • Food contact with your trays or plates should be avoided
  • Never put the object in the microwave, or even use it to hold hot dishes

 

 

 

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!

Children’s shoes with Tiger’s Heads

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Tiger-headed shoes are an example of traditional Chinese folk crafts. These children’s shoes, made from a variety of soft fabrics, feature a tiger at the front of the shoe and embroidered soles. Their name comes from the from the front part of the shoe that looks like the head of a tiger. In northern China, people also refer to them as “cat-headed shoes”. Wearing these brightly colored cloth shoes which all have such special designs is a traditional custom for young Chinese people and symbolizes good fortune.

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In Chinese culture, tigers are considered auspicious, so women embroider the vamp of the shoe in the shape of a tiger, hoping that their children will become as strong 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 or disasters in their lives. 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 very front of the shoe. The main part of the shoe is largely red and yellow and the craftsmen 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 in an exaggerated way.

 

Tancheng County, Linyi, Shandong Province (East China),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, present a tiger head in the front of the vamp. As a guardian animal and devourer of demons, the tiger protects the child against evil spirits. Other symbols are also embroidered under the shoes.

The origins of the tiger-headed shoe have no historical records, but there are several popular legends about them. The following is one of the legends that would explain the origin of these shoes: a long time ago, there was a lady with skillful hands and good artistic taste. 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 were decorated with a tiger’s head at their ends to scare the monster, leaving the child safe. As a result, people started to imitate this practice.

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In the eyes of the general public, the tiger is a robust and powerful animal with the title of “king of animals”. So when this animal is mentioned, it evokes in people the idea of ​​power and fear. As a result, some expressions about tiger, such as the roar of the tiger, the scary aspect of the tiger (Chinese: 虎威, pinyin: Huwei) or vigorous as a tiger (Chinese: 虎虎有生气, pinyin: huhuyoushengqi) were invented along with this 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 at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Landscape All-around: The Four Famous Embroideries

Written by Juliette Qi

 

As a traditional handicraft art, Chinese embroidery has an important place in the history of Chinese art and the textile industry. Throughout its history and even today, it is still improving technically and is renewed for the new aesthetic designs . It is practiced throughout China and has different characteristics depending on the region, among which we invite you to discover the four best known modern schools.

 

Su Embroidery

Su

 

Suzhou embroidery, which dates back 4000 years, is considered one of the four main schools of this Chinese handicraft, along with those in Hunan, Guangdong and Sichuan. All of the works are handmade on a silk material such as taffeta, satin and raw silk.

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The Suzhou School is renowned for the finesse of its products. To obtain the desired artistic effect, a silk thread is subdivided into 2, 4, 6, 8 or even 48 strands, each as thin as a single silk fiber.

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Girls who practice Su embroider

Suzhou embroidery now has 40 styles instead of the traditional 18, while silk threads have six thousand subtle nuances. Consequently, almost all drawings such as traditional Chinese paintings, oil paintings, gouaches, color photos or calligraphy, can be reproduced using Suzhou embroidery.

 

Yue Embroidery

Yue embroidery refers to embroidered work done in the Guangdong Province. It is said that this style of embroidery was originally created by the Li ethnic minority about 2,000 years ago.

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Yue embroidery is best known for its ingenious designs that incorporate auspicious symbols and best wishes into its embroidery work, and it acts on the merits of various artistic forms such as painting and folk-art paper cutting. The Yue embroidery works collected at the Palace Museum (Forbidden City, Beijing) are the most representative and the most numerous works of this embroidery school.

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There are two branches of the Yue Embroidery School which are “Chao Embroidery” and “Guang Embroidery”. In 2006, the “Guang Embroidery” was included in the representative list of the national intangible heritage and became an art protected by the Guandong Province as traditional folk culture legacy.

 

Shu Embroidery

“Embroidery Shu” is the general term for embroidery work mainly produced in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. It has enjoyed great fame since the Han dynasty and peaked in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In the middle of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Shu embroidery gradually formed its own industry.

Shu

In this style of embroidery, satin and colored silk are the main materials. The unique sewing methods and embroidery techniques contribute to its expressive and artistic effects.

La broderie Shu est utilisée à la fois sur des pièces artistiques et sur des objets qui peuvent servir chaque jour. Des dessus de lit, des draps, des pantoufles, des vêtements peuvent être brodés en style  Shu apportant couleur et beauté à l’utilisateur. De plaisantes pièces d’art sont également produites dans le style Shu. Elles peuvent être comprises de tentures murales, de paravents ou de rideaux. Les couleurs riches et les images vivantes que l’on trouve dans la broderie  Shu sont censées rappeler au spectateur le plaisir que l’on peut trouver dans chaque chose vivante. C’est peut-être pour ce plaisir que la broderie  Shu reste populaire de nos jours.

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Some artisans sum up the Shu embroidery as “rigorous and fine points, clear and elegant colors, along with beautiful and regular lines “. Shu embroidery is used for both artistic works and objects that can be used in everyday life. Bed covers, sheets, slippers, and clothes can all be embroidered in the Shu style, bringing color and beauty to the user’s possessions. Pleasant art works can also apply embroidery in Shu style, like wall hangings, screens or curtains. The rich colors and vivid images found in Shu embroidery are meant to remind the viewer of the pleasure that can be found in daily life. It is perhaps for this reason that Shu embroidery remains popular today.

 

Xiang Embroidery

Xiang embroidery is the general term given to embroidered work produced in Changsha and the surrounding areas (Hunan Province). This style of embroidery developed from folk Hunan embroidery and absorbed the very essence of embroidery schools like Su and Yue. The unearthed embroidery from tombs of the Chu Kingdom(1115BC-223BC) in 1958 and the 40 embroidered dresses dug out from Mawangdui tombs in Changsha in 1972 indicate that Hunan embroidery techniques reached a fairly high standard over 2000 years ago.

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During  its long history, Xiang Embroidery developed a unique style, relying on traditional features of Chinese paintings. The Award of Excellence and the First Prize were awarded to Xiang Embroidery, at the Turin Exhibition (Italy) in 1911 and at the Panama World Fair in 1933 respectively.

Xiang

Inheriting styles and inventions from long-standing embroiderers and incorporating modern cross-cultural designs, today’s Chinese embroidery has a new development for new designs and modern products, not only for its local specialties, but also for its universal aesthetic traits.

 

 

 

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!