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.

Su 2

 

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.

Su 3
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.

Yue2

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.

Yue

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.

Shu2

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.

xiang2

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!

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The Nuo Mask: A Collection of Primitive Art and Shamanism

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Evolution of Nuo Culture

Nuo can be considered as a Chinese ritual dating back to the earliest times, some dating back to the Neolithic period. This ceremony consists of various dances and processions for the gods, similar to the rites of exorcisms. In Chinese,”Nuo” means “expulsion of demons”. The character nuo(傩)refers to exorcism ceremonies performed by masked officiants. The ceremonies to which this term applies involve the expulsion of the used energies of the year and a purification to welcome the new energies. To justify this, most contributors use an etymological approach of looking for the oldest mention of character.

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The Nuo Dance

 

The Nuo culture, inscribed on the list of Chinese national cultural heritage, includes several genres, even though the one with the masks is one of the most important. We can also notice the existence of nuo altars, nuo rituals, nuo dances, nuo theater and even nuo customs. Later, the Nuo culture evolved and developed into an atypical art of Nuoxi, a popular show often to express wishes of prosperity and luck in various ceremonies.

 

Nuoxi: the Archaic Masked Theater

In ancient China, diseases or cataclysms were blamed on the presence of demons. It was therefore during the Nuo ceremonies and processions many masks were displayed, representing a whole pantheon of demons and gods. Thus, the accoutered villagers danced and tried to repel the evil forces and to attract the divine protection by using their thunderous masquerades. Several kinds of ceremonies exist and are devoted to the manufacture, use and protection of masks. Only men are allowed to make, use and protect Nuo masks. During ceremonies, men wearing a mask are considered possessed by a god or a divine spirit. During this period, they are forbidden to speak or move freely.

One can firstly note (a little bit too formal for a blog) through the Nuo masks the solicitation towards nature. Most of the divinations of the Nuo culture are thus representations of elements of nature. All actions seen and performed during rituals such as flattery, veneration and sacrifice are indeed a plea to nature. These ceremonies are not only the portrayal of the contradiction between man and nature. But we can also note the domination of man over the forces of nature. In those ancient times, these forces were seen as ugly, wicked, and weird creatures. By chasing them and beating them, men of that time thought that they could simultaneously drive out disease, death, and all other existences that clogged up human life. Finally, these rituals also represented human relationships as a whole. Through the Nuo ceremonies, we could promote the moral principles of a perfect education governing the human being.

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The nuo masks of Yuanling Town

 

Each scary and often grimacing mask corresponded to a specific god. Most of the time, these masks have jaws and eyes that are sometimes even articulated, which reinforces their terrifying effect. This effect is sought after because its purpose was originally to scare the demon Xiao Gui who was found responsible for diseases and calamities.

If the masks were originally bronze, the material used has evolved over time. Wood was used more and more. Although it is more fragile than bronze, it has the advantage of better weather resistance, especially when it is treated with paint or covered with plaster. According to ancient legends, in some areas travelers encountered Nuo temples every five kilometers. This testified to the importance of Nuo culture in ancient China.

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A Show in front of the Nuo Temple of Nanfeng

 

In recent decades, Nuo masks and documents attesting to the existence of such masks have been unearthed throughout China. Additionally, the masks which have been passed down from generation to generation, now circulate among people or are collected by Nuo actors and artists.

The collectors’ taste for Chinese masks seems to have played a role in spreading the term “Nuo” throughout the world. Through its use, not only does the term become known and commonplace, but masks take on a broader meaning than mere mobile artefacts. Representing or substituting for complex theatrical forms, these masks are collected for both their ritual aspects and entertainment functions.

 

 

 

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!

Yunjin: from Traditional Art to Cultural Heritage

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The Yunjin云锦 brocade craft from Nanjing (Nanjing) has been the traditional Chinese art of weaving for over 1500 years. This technique is still used today in the Jiangsu Province in eastern mainland China. Recognized for its aesthetic values and use, it was named by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

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Yunjin Cloth

 

Recognized Cultural Heritage

Mainly preserved in the Jiangsu Province in eastern China, this artform has more than a hundred processes, including the manufacture of looms, the sketching of patterns, the creation of jacquard cards for the preparation of drawings, the assembly of the craft and the multiple steps of the weaving itself.

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Yunjin brocade crafts in Nanjing require the use of a large loom, which must be operated by two craftsmen. The first is on the side of the lower parts and the second on the upper parts. The particularity of this loom is that it allows you to weave fine and noble materials such as silk threads, gold threads and peacock feathers. The tissues obtained are therefore of very good quality. Generally selected to make royal clothes, including the dragon robe and the crown for emperors in the past, this technique continues to be applied to the manufacturing of sumptuous clothing and souvenirs today.

 

Aesthetic and Academic Value

Fabrics made using this technique have a good reputation all over China. Thanks to the fact that this technique has been passed down from generation to generation, we can still make the famous dragon robe of the emperor. Additionally, fabric made using this technique nowadays is mostly intended for use by researchers and museums.

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Today’s Yunjin Weaver

 

The weavers used to perform their task by singing ballads, in order to memorize the technique which was used. Indeed, each rhythm corresponds to a very precise technique. While “passing the chain” and “separating the weft”, the weavers sing mnemonic ballads that help them to memorize the techniques they apply, thus creating san atmosphere of solidarity around the loom, as well as an artistic dimension.

For these weavers, their art is part of a historic mission: in addition to making fabrics for contemporary use, Yunjin is used for the reproduction of ancient silk fabrics for researchers and museums. Renowned for the splendor of its fabrics, Yunjin remains popular throughout the country.

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Reproduced Traditional Design

 

In Chinese history, a Yunjin brocade is a symbol of status and an emblem of the aesthetic notions. Yunjin brocade patterns varied depending on the grade of mandarins. As Guo Jun, a weaver who owns his own workshop, says, “The motives are the soul of the Yunjin brocade. Without these allegorical motifs, the creation of brocades lacks value. Technically, one could change the motif of a unicorn into a portrait of Donald Trump, but the traditional national costume would then become a casual t-shirt”. After forty years of weaving Yunjin brocades, Guo not only takes on apprentices to learn to design brocade motifs, but also teaches them Chinese traditional culture.

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Guo Jun, like many contemporary craftsmen, hopes that his workshop will train some apprentices who can make Yunjin brocade according to the modern aesthetic for that this craft can enter the international collection market and to suit modern styles. He thinks it is only with the recognition of collectors of art objects that the of Yunjin Brocade with noble character will be reborn.

 

 

 

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!

Dongba Writing: A Primitive Pictogram

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Dongba Culture and Naxi Ethnicity

In China, the Dongba culture, associated with Lijiang City in the Yunnan Province and Muli District in the Sichuan Province, refers to the traditional culture of the Naxi ethnic group. The Naxi live mostly in northern Yunnan, in Lijiang, Weixi, Zhongdian, Ninglang and Yongsheng prefectures.

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The Naxi in Traditional Costume

 

The Dongba culture is based on the polytheistic religion of the same name and also has own writing, dances, paintings and music. “Dongba” is the name given to shamans, types of wizards, who transmit this culture from generation to generation. The Dongba priest is an important figure in the community because he preaches the harmony between men and nature, which is a fundamental value among the Naxi people, just like the cult of the ancestors.

The Dongba religion, more than a thousand years old, has been influenced by Tibetan Lamaism over the centuries, but also by Taoism and Chinese Buddhism. In this religion, the elements of nature are considered as gods who rule the world.

 

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The polytheist Dongba religion

 

From an artistic perspective, Dongba culture is indeed very rich because it is transmitted and expressed by music and painting. Many colorful scrolls depicting religious scenes or deities can be found in Lijiang.

The city of Lijiang is a research center which studies the Dongba culture and keeps all objects related to this culture. Many Chinese and foreign researchers come to this place to study this fascinating culture. In religious rituals, the Naxis dance in their traditional costumes reminiscent of Tibetan ones. They also sing sacred texts, written in Dongba.

 

Dongba Writing: The Legendary Characters

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Wood Engraving of Dongba Writing

 

The dongba or tomba script (in romanized Naxi: ‘na-‘khi ²ggŏ-¹baw) is one of the scriptures used to write in the Naxi language, which is spoken by the Naxi people. It is more than 1000 years old and is probably the only predominantly pictographic writing system used today; however, some characters are used as syllabic characters.

There are currently 2000 religious works written in the Dongba language in which more than 2000 pictograms are used. These books are of crucial importance to understand the Dongba culture because they inform us about religion and customs but also about philosophy, history, literature, astronomy, medicine, fauna and flora as well as the paintings and music of this culture.

In the Lijiang prefecture in particular, the signs are usually written in dongba, han Chinese and sometimes in English. There are also dongba – hanzi / english dictionaries in the bookstores of the city.

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Dongba calligraphy

 

Dongba calligraphy is still practiced by using bamboo stencils, as well as prints, both of which usually use a high-quality handmade paper specifically made for Dongba.

The traditional production of dongba paper uses the bark of two shrubs, wikstroemia delavayi and wikstroemia lichiangensis, growing at an altitude of 2,000m above sea-level, as in the canton of Sanbei. The barks are cut into thin strips, soaked in a tray, and then dried on boards in the sun. There are also many murals of this writing, in bas-relief or 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 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!

Puppet Opera and Folk Belief

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Peoples around the world use puppets in their shows. Puppets have often been used in dramas and comedies, adding of course music and sound effects to make the show more attractive. Puppet shows are very famous in China and many characters (Chinese) are as famous as Pinocchio is for Westerners.

 

 

The History of Shadow Play

It is said that the Mongols who participated in the conquest of China in the 13th century enjoyed being entertained by watching shadows in their camps. They took their own entertainment with them, and it became a popular form of recreation in the Ottoman Empire that later spread to the western parts of the territory.

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Puppets used for Chinese Shadow Play

 

Shadow plays were introduced in France when French missionaries returned from China in 1767 and gave performances in Paris and Marseille. Isst is in this way that the shadow play entered European territories. The performances of shadow plays were very successful in China and we began to call them the ” Ombres chinois “, which is the French equivalent of the shadow plays coming from China. This artform had its glory days in Paris during the 19th century. The cabaret ” Chat Noir ” (Black Cat) of Montmartre (Paris) also produced a large number of shows in the 80s.

 

The Popular Theatrical Show

It was usually the leader of the temple community who invited the troupe and decided on the show on the occasion of the birthday of the deity. The shows were presented in front of the temples on a stage set up for the occasion, in camphor wood sheds richly carved and covered with gold foil.As a reflection of the architecture of the temples, the shed has colonnades of dragons and the sculptures of characters or animals as symbols of good auguries.

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A Traditional Show in the Countryside

 

Like the classical spectacles intended for the deities, the audience, if there was one, did not pay to watch the puppet shows. Sometimes in the countryside, the presentation had only the god of the soil as a spectator. His altar was built in the middle of a rice field and no human spectator came to attend the performance.

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A Modern Show

 

Nowadays technical devices have appeared, computers control lighting, machines, modern paintings and dyes allow artists to create shadows and colorful figures. It is very difficult for some shadow show artists to cope with new technology, but some of them take advantage of these new technologies and use them wisely for the development of their performances in China.

 

The Relationship to Belief: Ceremony for the Deities

Even though the puppet performances were intended for the entertainment of the deities, the show itself was purely profane. In addition, the performance master always had some magic skills, mainly in exorcism. For example they used a wire puppet representing Zhong Kui for the purification of places infested by ghosts.

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The Character Zhong Kui

 

Other ceremonies could involve puppets with sheaths; they took place in the open air and usually at the event site. The ceremony was intended to pacify some wandering souls deemed responsible for disasters such as fires, floods and diseases.

After these ceremonies, the show was played normally in the sheds. People prepare suggestively their show about water if there was a fire, about healing if someone was ill etc … but without referring directly to the reason for the ceremony during the show.

 

 

 

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!

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

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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

 

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

 

The Different Techniques

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

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

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

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

 

Li Knot Dyeing

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

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

 

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

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

 

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NOTES*

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

 

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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

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

Painting with Wings: The Chinese Kite

Written by Juliette Qi

 

History of the First Kites in China

 

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Traditional  Kite in China 

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

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Flying A Kite

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

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Traditional Design “Swallow”

 

Weifang and the Kite Festival

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

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Dragon Kite of Weifang

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

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

 

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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

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

New Year’s Painting: A Decorative Art

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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

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Traditional Style in the 17th Century, Taohuawu

 

What is Chinese Printed Painting ?

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

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The Gods of the Door

 

Use for the Chinese New Year

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

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Painting of Character”Fu”(Felicity), Taohuawu

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

 

Style for Each City

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

 

 

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Pattern of the Yangliuqing School

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

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Pattern of the Taohuawu School

 

Woodcut Paintings

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

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

 

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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

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

Masks of Peking Opera: Representations and Connotations

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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

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Peking Opera Characters Dan and Jing with Drawn Mask

 

Colors and the Expression of Personalities

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

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

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

  • The white mask symbolizes mistrust and cunning.

  • The yellow mask symbolizes ferocity and ambition.

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

  • The blue mask symbolizes ferocity and cunning.

  • The purple mask characterizes righteousness and sophistication.

 

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Colorful Masks with Different Connotations

 

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

 

The Makeup of the Four Roles

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The Makeup of the role “Dan”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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

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

Face Changing: An Original Technique in Sichuan Opera

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The Sichuan Opera: A Historical Art

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

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The Masked Actors

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

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

 

Development of “Face Change”

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

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“The change of face” in Sichuan Opera

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

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

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The Changing Masks

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

 

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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!