Masks of Peking Opera: Representations and Connotations

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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

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Peking Opera Characters Dan and Jing with Drawn Mask

 

Colors and the Expression of Personalities

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

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

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

  • The white mask symbolizes mistrust and cunning.

  • The yellow mask symbolizes ferocity and ambition.

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

  • The blue mask symbolizes ferocity and cunning.

  • The purple mask characterizes righteousness and sophistication.

 

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Colorful Masks with Different Connotations

 

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

 

The Makeup of the Four Roles

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The Makeup of the role “Dan”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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Face Changing: An Original Technique in Sichuan Opera

Written by Juliette Qi

 

The Sichuan Opera: A Historical Art

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

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The Masked Actors

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

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

 

Development of “Face Change”

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

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“The change of face” in Sichuan Opera

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

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

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The Changing Masks

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

 

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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Chinese Fan as Cultural Heritage

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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Fan as Decoration in a Tea Room

History of the Chinese Fan

The history of the manufacture of traditional Chinese fans dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 23 AD). The first fans were made of feathers and because of this, the Chinese character for the word “fan” takes the character for the word “feather” as its radical. Bamboo was also used as early as the 2nd century to make fans.

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Traditional Fan of Feathers

During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the folded fan appeared in China for the first time as “Japanese Fan” and became very popular during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It is said that it was in Japan that the folded fan was invented in the 9th century, before being introduced into China through Korea.

 

Various Uses

In ancient times, fans were used to keep the air fresh and to ward off sunlight and dust. People from all walks of life loved fans for their practical use.

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Braided Straw Fan

For practical purposes, the most commonly used were the palm leaf fans. In constrast, some fans that were made of quality materials and demonstrated great artistic skills were mostly used for decoration. Ivory fans, for example, were paid as tribute to the imperial court and were regarded as symbols of power and social status. Some of the paintings decorating the fans reached the heights of virtuosity, with many including calligraphy work and poems inscribed by masters.

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Fan of Literati  Front
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Fan of  Literati Back

The use of the Chinese fan as a combat weapon may seem more surprising to Westerners. Indeed, some martial arts used war fans as weapons of battle. This type of fan with a steel mount served at the same time as a rallying sign , and in the direction of troops and for protection during saber fights.

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Fan of Tai Ji as a “Weapon”

The practical use of fans has decreased with the innovation of electric fans and the air conditioner. Traditional fans, however, are still known for their artistic value, especially those featuring beautiful paintings. Fans can also made of various materials, such as sandalwood, feather, paper, silk, bamboo, etc.

Beyond its common practical uses, fans also serve as an accessory of communication in the hands of Chinese theater actors. The roundness and silky softness of fans attributed to female roles accentuate their seduction, while folding fans attributed to male roles tend to emphasize their dignity and intelligence. Thus, through gestures made with a fan, an actor manifests his good manners (Zhuge Kongming with his fan of feathers) or his sense of humor (Jigong with his broken fan).

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The Use of Fan in the Kun Opera

 

Craft as Cultural Heritage

There are different styles and traditions for crafting fans in different regions of China. Suzhou fans are usually made of silk and sandalwood, those of Hangzhou in black paper, those of Sichuan bamboo, those of Guangdong in palm leaves, etc.

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Chinese Fan Applied for Fashion Design

Fans are a characteristic product of traditional Chinese craftsmanship. Even though fans with a European flavor were made for exportation from the 17th century, this accessory has remained an essential element of the art of living in Chinese culture.

 

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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Kid’s Shoes with Tiger Head

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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Jade in Chinese Culture

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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

 

The History of Jade in China

 

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Detailed Jade Pieces

 

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

 

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

 

image006
Jade Dragon, Hongshan Culture (about 5000 BC)

 

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

 

image008
Yu Xiao with Eight Holes in White Jade

 

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Yuxiao with Seven Holes

 

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

 

The Symbolism of Chinese Jade

 

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

image012
“The wise man of high morality is gentle as jade” – Confucius

 

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

 

image014
Jade pendant for Han Clothing

 

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

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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Literati Painting

Written by Juliette Qi

 

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

 

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Dong Qichang, Wanluan Thatch Lodge

 

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

 

2
Wang e, Room overlooking the River

 

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

 

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Bada Shanren, Lotus and bird
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Shitao, Le bateau

 

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

 

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The “Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou”

 

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

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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

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

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

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

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

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

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

  1. Tracing

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

  1. Drawing the boundaries

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

  1. Marking the colors

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

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  1. Cutting the paperboard

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

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  1. Pasting the cotton

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

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  1. Cutting yarn

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

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  1. Forming the shape

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

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  1. Organizing the pattern

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

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  1. Mounting

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

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

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

2013062312384655438505.jpgSilk padded applique embroidery of flowers

About Interact China


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

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

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


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

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

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

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

c77e13a5cb7e4043a5fa3f1f29bfa038副本.jpgDetails of “Ode to Peace”

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

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

 

About Interact China


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

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

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


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

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

Mr. Sea, Living Porcelain Sculpture — Bold Experiment by China’s Artist Geng Xue

Written by Yuqing Yang

 

Geng Xue is a rising young multi-media artist born in 1980s in China. She majored in sculpture and graduated from China’s most privileged Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2007. Geng Xue never ceases to innovate and experience with new media such as water color painting, filming, but her favorite medium is still ceramics.  She manages to create a new world and a new sense of aesthetic with ceramics.

Different from last few generations of artists, her intention in choosing ceramics is to demonstrate many hidden aesthetic sides of porcelains. Drawing inspirations from ancient Chinese mythologies and classical stories, Geng Xue constructs a context for her works. The rare combination of translucent porcelains and dream-like classics somehow creates infinite room for imagination and leaves the audience in a fantasy world.

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Left: Geng Xue’s biography; Right: a representative work of Geng Xue – Cadifu’s Mother, 2012

 

Geng Xue has held solo exhibitions over the globe. In one of her solo exhibitions at Klein Sun Gallery, New York – Mount Sumeru (the center of physical and spiritual universes in Buddhist cosmology), most of the sculptures feature different body parts such hands and heads as part of their ethereal surroundings. In this surreal world, porcelain as the main medium conveys a sense of both fluidity and flexibility.

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Ocean Roar, 2016

With previous achievements, Geng Xue goes on and creates the first porcelain film “Mr. Sea” (海公子Hai Gongzi in Chinese). It is a revolutionary combination of film and porcelain. The original Chinese story it is based upon was from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio written in 1740, a collection that creates an eerie world full of miraculous happenings.

Geng Xue intends to emphasize the dreamlike quality of a scholar’s erotic encounter with a snake spirit on a remote island in such an uncanny and strange literal context. She combines it perfectly with the coldness and fluidity of ceramics and the camera movement.

 

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One scene from Mr.Sea; “It is not merely a ghost story.” Commented by Geng Xue

Geng Xue believes in a kind of inherent quality of ceramics, which she calls 瓷性 cixing. And the ancient Chinese literature with well-built aesthetics is the ideal channel to embody this nature of ceramics. In the artist’s understanding, the literary beauty consists of half other-worldliness and half elegance, which are the very essence of the Chinese culture.

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Check out the following video for a full trailer of the porcelain film, “Mr. Sea”!

 

 

 

 


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 12 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, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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 History of Chinese Ceramics in 5 Minutes

Written by Yuqing Yang

The most well-known Chinese porcelain in the West is the blue-and-white porcelain. Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin has a “Porcelain Cabinet” decorated by the finest blue-and-white porcelains. Not so many people, however, are familiar with other forms of Chinese ceramics. In this case, you are missing out on a lot, because they should surprise you even more! So let’s embark on a time travel and explore this timeless beauty in history!

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The Porcelain Cabinet in Charlottenbug, Berlin, completed in 1706

To get to know the development of ceramics, the first question is – how were they made in the first place? The basic formula for ceramics is stones + high temperature (above 1200 ℃  ) + glaze, all of which would not be achieved without advanced industrial developments. For example, in early times such as Shang and Western Zhou dynasties (c. 1600 – 771 BC), the semi-celadons discovered only had some basic characteristics of modern ceramics.

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Proto-porcelain

After 1600-1700 years of trials and errors, in Eastern Han period (25 – 220 AC), the area called Shangyu (上虞) located in eastern China became the origin of modern ceramics. These ceramics were better manufactured and characterized by a layer of glass-like celadon glaze.

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In Song dynasty (960–1279 AC), the ceramic production reached its peak, and the techniques varied region from region. Among all, there were five main kilns () – Jun, Ge, Guan, Ru and Ding. Each of them produced ceramics of its own distinct style. For example, the potteries from Jun kiln were known for their changing colors and nature-and-animal-like appearances, and those from Ru kiln usually had light-colored glazes.

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Lotus-like warming bowl from Ru Kiln
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Rose begonia-like purple-glazed flowerpot from Jun Kiln

Since the ancient time, ceramics had gone through phases of glazing. Eventually, not only the color spectrum was expanded rapidly, colors could also be painted both under and over the glaze. For instance, in Ming dynasty (1368 –1644 AC), the famous blue-and-white porcelain for decoration was colored under the glaze.

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With the previous achievements, in Qing dynasty (1616 – 1912 AC), another material, enamel, was introduced in the manufacturing process from abroad. The patterns and images on these Faience ceramics usually came from poems and paintings. Every detail was taken great care of by the most talented painters residing in the imperial palace. These porcelains were mostly small objects such as bowls, plates, tea sets, etc., which were indeed the first-rate Chinese ceramics in history.

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So how do you like this brief introduction of ceramics? Let me know by commenting below! If you still want to know more about this fascinating history, you can surely benefit from the following video:

 

 

 


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 12 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, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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!