A Dixi Opera inheritor brings his craft to schools

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

 
 Chinese opera

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

 
 Chinese opera

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

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

 
 Chinese opera

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

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

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

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

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

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

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

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Oriental Wall Decor

If you’re going for an oriental theme in your home or in a room, wall decor will certainly enhance the tone.

Rattan Scrolls

 
 Chinese home design

Rattan scrolls are artistic designs that are painted on a special paper or silk. These scrolls are very popular as collectibles and home decorative items in Asian countries. The scrolls are usually weighted down with a dowel at the bottom to keep the artwork crisp and clear for display. Rattan scrolls are a great wall decor to enhance the oriental culture in your room.

Wall Decals

 
 Chinese home design

Oriental wall decals are a great way to add some life to your room. Unlike using big framed pictures, rattan scrolls and other forms of decor that you hang on the wall, decals take up less room and feel less bulky. Unfortunately, wall decals limit your ability to change things up if you decide you want to adjust the decor. Wall decals are definitely more permanent than something you hang on the wall, which you can simply move around when you please. So be prudent when deciding how you want to use wall decals.

Oriental Wall Fans

 
 Chinese home design

A classic home decorative item in Asian custom is the Oriental Wall Fans. The creation of oriental fans has a history of two thousand years in ancient China as a medium for artistic expression. They have become a popular collectible item and home decoration. Oriental wall fans come in a wide variety of styles and designs.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

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 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

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!

Features of Chinese Paper Cut

The art of paper cutting remains one of the most popular traditional arts in China. It is intended to be decorative, not as a free-standing work of art, but today they are seen as a kind of art by lovers of paper cuttings worldwide.

 

Balance and Proportion

Paper cuttings come in all sizes, from the usual 3” x 5” to several feet high. Since paper cuttings were intended as decorations to beautify an otherwise unexpressive window, door panel, or other surface, it was important that the balance and proportion of the motif be suited to the space which it would occupy.

Chinese Paper Cut

There are basic cut outs that are a single image. And there are symmetrical designs that are usually created by some folding over a proportioned crease, and then cutting some shape. When unfolded, it forms a symmetrical design. Symmetry was highly prized, as well as extreme neatness in the cutting. Colors were generally vivid, but soft and harmonious. Special techniques were required to achieve crescents or hackle marks.

 

Themes

 

Chinese Paper Cut

Since the art of paper cutting is a true folk art, its craftsmen were mostly ordinary folk from the countryside and thus common themes were those which depicted scenes from everyday life. The images depicted imbue the paper cutting with a strong sense of Chinese Custom. An understanding and scrutiny of paper cutting is a good beginning to get to know and appreciate the complexity of Chinese folk arts.

Chinese Paper Cut

Paper cuttings are popular because of their expression of wishes and hopes. Wishes for wealth, health and longevity are conveyed through paper cuttings. For example, during the Chinese New Year, the character ‘ Fu (福, blessing)’ is posted upside down on the door to express people’s wish for the coming of ‘Fu’. At a wedding ceremony, a red paper cutting with the character ‘Xi (囍, double happiness)’ is a traditional and essential decoration. At a birthday party of an old person, paper cuttings with the character ‘Shou (寿, longevity)’ are often seen.

Chinese Paper Cut

Chinese Paper Cut

Chinese Paper Cut

The auspicious designs symbolize good luck and the avoidance of evil. For example, the peach symbolizes longevity; the pomegranate, fertility; the mandarin duck, love; the pine tree, eternal youth; the peony, honor and wealth; while the magpie perched on the branch of a plum tree presages a lucky event that will soon happen. In the world of Paper-cut art, the skillful folk craftsmen make full use of their imagination to create various works with beauty and originality.

 

Categories

 

As the art has been passed down through the generations, the mainstream techniques developed many diverse forms, and paper cuts made in different areas have different characteristics. There are mainly 3 categories of paper cutting.

a. The South School

Chinese Paper Cut

The representatives are Foshan paper-cutting in Guangdong Province and Fujian Province folk paper cuttings. The former is rigorous, decorative, elegant, and splendid. The latter has different features in terms of its themes, among which the gift flowers of Putian are the most special.

b. The Jiangzhe (Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces) School

Chinese Paper Cut

The representatives are Yangzhou paper cuttings in Jiangsu Province, and Zhejiang Province folk paper cuttings. The former is spiritual and elegant. The latter focuses on themes of flowers, fruits, birds and fish.

c. The North School

Chinese Paper Cut

Chinese Paper Cut

The representatives are Shanxi Province paper cuttings, Shaanxi Province folk paper cuttings and Shandong Province folk paper cuttings. Paper cuttings in Shanxi Province are relatively simple and concise among the three. Shaanxi Province paper cuttings have odd shapes and interesting connotations. Paper cuttings in Shandong Province have unique aesthetic and unrestrained styles with rich patterns.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Chinese Peasant Painting Genres

Chinese peasant painting, as an art genre, first emerged in the 1950s and took shape in the 1970s. After decades of development, it demonstrates strong momentum as quite a few counties are titled “Painting Villages” nationwide. The famed folk painting centers are Huxian and Ansai Counties of Shaanxi province, Pizhou and Liuhe of Jiangsu province and Jinshan District of Shanghai etc.

 

Jinshan Peasant Paintings

Jinshan Peasant Paintings are created by Chinese peasants working in Jinshan County near Shanghai, China. During the late 1970s, the Chinese painter Wu Tongzhang began teaching painting techniques to the peasants in Jinshan. Most of these first painters were older women skilled in various folk arts that had been passed down through generations. These traditional folk arts, such as embroidery, paper cutting, paper folding, and weaving, heavily influenced the style of painting that developed.

Peasant Painting  Peasant Painting

The subjects of these paintings are mostly rural scenery or snapshots of life. Each peasant painting seems to be telling a touching and interesting story. It is also an embodiment of the creator’s love for their hometown and life.

 Peasant Painting

Jinshan Peasant Paintings are both natural and unnatural. They are natural, for they show a love of ordinary life, love of children, love of festivals, love of animals, and love of work and chores. But they are also unnatural, in that these ordinary life-events are shown according to the painters’ imaginations. The painters use a wide range of bright colors – colors that are often unnatural – and spread them throughout the paintings. Spatial reality and perspective are unimportant in these paintings. Figures and objects are usually drawn in a way that looks childlike. Taken together, these elements give the paintings a charming, primitive style.

 

Huxian Peasant Paintings

 

 Peasant Painting

Huxian County lies to the southwest of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province. The peasant paintings in this area are closely connected with local operas, dances, dragon lanterns and other forms of folk arts. The paintings have a strong regional flavor and idyllic style. Featuring the beautiful rural scenery of Huxian County, these paintings are well arranged with simple design and strongly contrasted colors, ideal for decoration.

 Peasant Painting

The style is said to have originated in the late 1950s when Hu County peasants who were building a new reservoir began painting pictures of the work in progress in order to record the work and to inspire themselves to work better. These first peasant painters did not even have proper paints, but used soot, lime, and the red soil of the area to paint. The County Communist Party Committee organized art classes so that professionals could teach these peasants how to paint. Huxian peasants continued to paint, and during China’s Cultural Revolution ( 1966 -1976 CE) their work was shown abroad to prove to the outside world that common, ordinary workers could produce works of art. Today, Huxian Peasant Paintings still show the ordinary aspects of people’s lives. Festivals, parades, the harvest, music, village traditions, farm animals, winter, kitchen work, and children are all celebrated in these paintings.

 

Liuhe Peasant Paintings

 

 Peasant Painting

The paintings featuring folk customs created with rich imagination by peasants in Liuhe County of Nanjing are brightly-colored, rustic and natural.

 

Pizhou Peasant Paintings

 

 Peasant Painting

Pizhou is a place widely known as “the Home of Peasant Paintings” and the peasant paintings here have a long history. In former times, on the Day of Beginning of Spring, it was a tradition for local to paint oxen, horses, donkeys and other domestic animals and farming tools on the wall with red clay. In the early 1950s, local peasants began to capture life on paper with great enthusiasm. Their paintings are natural, vivid and touching. Most paintings are in praise of life and expressing good wishes.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Chinese Paper Cut- Artistic Creations from Nimble Fingers

China paper cut, also literally called window flower or cutting picture in Chinese, refers to handicrafts made by cutting paper with scissors or knives to form different patterns and pasting them on walls, windows, doors and ceilings.

 

History

The art of paper cutting has a long and rich history. Prior to the invention of paper, the cutting art had already been practiced on leather and gold and silver foils.

Chinese Paper Cut It is generally believed that the craft of paper cutting emerged soon after paper was invented during the Han dynasty (206 BCE-221 CE). As paper was highly precious in the early days, the art of paper cutting first became popular in the royal palaces and houses of nobility as a favorite pastime among court ladies. Later, during the 7th through 13th centuries, paper cutting was immensely popular during folk festivals and celebrations. By the 14th century, the art had spread to the Middle East and Europe; and by the 15th century onward, paper cutting art works had become an integral part of the everyday life of the people. Throughout the Qing Dynasty (1644CE-1912CE) many paper cutting skills, including drafting and the use of smoked papers, were developed.

However, the art of paper cutting was on the verge of dying out during late Qing Dynasty as old China experienced successive years of the disaster of war brought on by domestic turmoil and foreign invasion. Amidst a myriad of changes in their lives, most people had no leisure time to engage in the study of the art of paper cutting. The Republic of China later tried to revive the art in the 1980s. The art of paper cutting has again received a great deal of attention because of heavy publicity, resulting in even more innovative artwork.

 

Usage

 

The early paper cutting might be related to worshipping gods, evocation and sacrificing to the dead. In the past, paper was cut into images of people or things such as money and clothes, which were buried with the dead or burned at funerals. This is a superstition that these things burned or buried would accompany the dead in another world. Paper cuttings were also used to decorate sacrifices.

Chinese Paper Cut

Chinese Paper Cut

Today, paper cuttings are chiefly decorative and still widely used today at important festivals, especially during the New Year. They are usually made with red paper, which is the most popular and propitious color in Chinese culture. They ornament walls, windows, doors, columns, mirrors, lamps and lanterns in homes and are also used on presents or are given as gifts themselves. Entrances are decorated with paper cut outs are supposed to bring good luck. In addition, they can be used as embroidery patterns for clothes and lacquer works.

 

Handmade Paper Cut

 

Paper cut are all handmade. There are two methods of making paper cuts, one use scissors, the other use knives.

Chinese Paper Cut

In the scissor method, several pieces of paper — up to eight — are fastened together. The motif is then cut with sharp, pointed scissors.

Knife cuttings are fashioned by putting several layers of paper on a relatively soft foundation consisting of a mixture of tallow and ashes. Following a pattern, the artist cuts the motif into the paper with a sharp knife which is usually held vertically. Skilled crafters can even cut out different drawings freely without stopping. More paper cuts are made with the knife-cutting technique rather than scissors since it is less time consuming.

In rural areas, paper cut is traditionally a handicraft for women. In the past, every girl was supposed to master it and brides were often judged by their skills. Professional paper cutting artists are, on the other hand, usually males who earned guaranteed incomes by working in workshops.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Chinese Horse Ladle Mask

The Horse ladle mask is a folk art form mainly prevailing in the Central Shaanxi Plain. It is also locally called horse ladle facial make-ups. The horse ladle facial make-ups used in Shehuo are a precious art form, demonstrating the unique artistic glamour of West China.

 

Shehuo

Horse Ladle Mask

With a history more than 5000 years, Shehuo, originally a ceremony to honor gods and spirits from heaven and earth, gradually developed to a festive occasion to celebrate and pray for harvest. They prayed for harvest and affluence with their songs and dances from “She”, originally meaning the God of Earth, and “Huo”, literally meaning fire which ancient people believed to have the magic power of driving away the evil spirit.

Horse Ladle Mask

Horse Ladle Mask

Shehuo is now a mass entertainment activity for rural people of northern west of China to celebrate Chinese New Year. Besides, it is also the natural outpouring of enthusiasm and love for life as well as a demonstration of talents and vitality.

Horse Ladle Mask

The players made up like wearing a mask on the face. Afterward, people used the woody ladle painted with Shehuo Mask, which is believed to have magic power in it, to feed horses and cattle to prevent murrain, or hung the ladle-shape mask on the wall in their house to impetrate safety, harmony, and happiness.

 

Horse Ladle Mask

 

Just as the name suggests, horse ladles are used to feed horses in these areas. The round ladles are used to hold water, while the rectangular ones are to hold grain.

Horse Ladle Mask

By using various color, different style of masks exemplify different characters in an exaggerated way. Vivid mythic animal, monster, human and God characters emerge in manifold meticulous painted masks. The patterns painted on the ladles are ways of praying for the livestock’s safety and health, thus ensuring people a happy and harmonious life. People in the past used to hang the painted ladles in their houses to drive away the evil spirits, and to avoid sterility and other accidents. The tradition and influence left over from the Shang and Zhou dynasties (About 1600-221BC) can still be perceived from these painted ladles.

Horse Ladle Mask

According to experts’ research, the colored drawings are similar to those on the bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou times, and the image characterized by flowers, fish, insects, lucky birds and beasts is a trace of the totems, reproduction worship and gods adoration of ancient China, reflecting the cultural specificity of the totem epoch. People at the time believed that the wizards with painted faces were endowed with the magic power to talk to God. The tattoo and face painting traditions are the predecessors of facial make-ups.

Horse Ladle Mask

Therefore, the horse ladle facial make-ups used in Shehuo in some way passed on the 5,000-year Chinese civilization by recording the ancient folk customs.

Besides its original purpose of warding off evil, the horse ladle masks hold high aesthetic values and are regarded as refined handicrafts favored by collectors.

Horse Ladle Mask

Fine wood from phoenix tree, Chinese toon or peach tree is usually chosen as the material, from which horse ladles are delicately carved. Multi-layer patterns and the unique West China feature of using bright colors usually characterize the artworks. The steady style, uncouth sculpt, intense colors, simple yet delicate paintings, and bold, pure, fresh, free and exaggerated style can be found from all the original works, demonstrating the rich imagination and wisdom of the working people.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Chinese Peasant Painting

Just as the name implies, Chinese peasant paintings are decorative paintings and printed pictures created by peasants in China. These simple aesthetic works are much loved by rural and urban people, as well as attracting attention from abroad. Dongba people

 

Origin

Chinese Peasant Painting is both ancient and young. It is ancient because it originates from the thousand year traditions of embroidering, batik, paper cutting and wall painting. It is young because as a genre of painting it has emerged within the last thirty years. It appeared in the late 1950s partly as a result of political encouragement, took shape in the 1970s, but to the 1980s, it had demonstrated its vitality with unique charm.

 

What to Appreciate in Peasant Paintings

 

Dongba people

Chinese peasants paint their works by using bright colors in a simple and authentic style to express their good wishes, record their everyday lifestyle, and illustrate festivities. Some paintings are bold and unconstrained, some are strong and impassioned, while yet others are ornate and elegant. All of them have a naive charm, clear and full of the feeling of folk life. By appreciating these art works, you get a full picture of how these Chinese peasants live, how they think, and what they love.

Dongba people

Looking at those works at the first sight, impressionism may be the first thing to come to your mind. The similarities between the two are obvious: both have intense colors, simple and clear lines, and detail the feelings and understandings of the world except for the fact that these are not done by a Chinese Monet, but, surprisingly, Chinese peasants.

Dongba people

Dongba people

More than three quarters of the population in China are peasants, creators of this unique genre of fine arts in China. Without professional training in art academies, the peasants make these paintings to express their own joys, upsets, and ponderings. As a matter of fact, a lot of the painters are illiterate. When they cannot express themselves with written, they take painting brushes instead.

If you are becoming weary of watching the classic canvas and abstract modern paintings, these works provide you an alternative that strikes you with its extreme liveliness, vivaciously rural style, and bold imaginations.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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