Chinese New Year – Year of the Rabbit Workshop Information
New Year paintings are wood engraving pictures that people use during the Spring Festival to ring out the old, ring in the new, seek good luck and ward off evil spirits. The elegant painting and engraving are well worth appreciating. There are a wide variety of New Year paintings among which Xichu New Year paintings exhibit the richest contents. Passing down traditional culture from generation to generation with characters, plots and painting, Xichu New Year paintings are, so to speak, the most informative and aesthetic New Year paintings. Because operas were played by piece in the past, New Year paintings of dramatic genre were called Xichu New Year paintings where Xi means opera and Chu means piece.
Xichu New Year paintings of various forms are stuck on to walls, doors, panes, kang (a heatable brick bed) sides and lamp surfaces, and become part of interior decoration. They are there for people to enjoy and explain history and culture to their children, so they also constitute an important part of little tradition education in folk China.
Xichu New Year paintings became popular with the prosperity and development of Chinese operas since the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty. During this course, because of the differences in play, character, posture, facial type, costume, setting and tool in various local operas, the differences in engraving skill, color process and manufacturing method in different regions, and the differences in external factors like economic conditions, Xichu New Year paintings developed into various regional styles with distinctive characteristics.
A Xichu New Year painting is engraved after repetitive adjustments to the manuscript of the touching plots and graceful expressions and postures from a well-chosen drama played by a renowned actor/actress, which is completed by a consummate painter at the scene. The painting not only tells the essential plots of the drama, but also vividly depicts the characters, costumes, appearances, postures, formula, scenes and stage properties. It converts the cream of drama, which is a kind of temporal art, to the composition, colors and lines of a New Year painting, which is a kind of spatial art. In the creating process, the painter would usually add their unique ideas to make their work the crystal of engraving art and drama.
The Chinese New Year is now popularly known as the Spring Festival because it starts from the Beginning of Spring (the first of the twenty-four terms in coordination with the changes of Nature). Its origin is too old to be traced. Several explanations are hanging around. All agree, however, that the word Nian, which in modern Chinese solely means "year", was originally the name of a monster beast that started to prey on people the night before the beginning of a new year (Do not lose track here: we are talking about the new year in terms of the Chinese calendar).
One legend goes that the beast Nian had a very big mouth that would swallow a great many people with one bite. People were very scared. One day, an old man came to their rescue, offering to subdue Nian. To Nian he said, "I hear say that you are very capable, but can you swallow the other beasts of prey on earth instead of people who are by no means of your worthy opponents?" So, swallow it did many of the beasts of prey on earth that also harassed people and their domestic animals from time to time.
After that, the old man disappeared riding the beast Nian. He turned out to be an immortal god. Now that Nian is gone and other beasts of prey are also scared into forests, people begin to enjoy their peaceful life. Before the old man left, he had told people to put up red paper decorations on their windows and doors at each year's end to scare away Nian in case it sneaked back again, because red is the color the beast feared the most.
From then on, the tradition of observing the conquest of Nian is carried on from generation to generation. The term "Guo Nian", which may mean "Survive the Nian" becomes today "Celebrate the (New) Year" as the word "guo" in Chinese having both the meaning of "pass-over" and "observe". The custom of putting up red paper and firing fire-crackers to scare away Nian should it have a chance to run loose is still around. However, people today have long forgotten why they are doing all this, except that they feel the color and the sound add to the excitement of the celebration.
Chinese New Year History
The Chinese New Year Festival is the most significant holiday for Chinese people around the world, regardless of the origin of their ancestors. It is also known as the Lunar New Year Festival because it is based on the lunar calendar as opposed to the Gregorian calendar. The holiday is a very jubilant occasion mainly because it is the time when people take a break from work to get together with family and friends.
The origin of the Chinese New Year Festival can be traced back thousands of years through a continually evolving series of colorful legends and traditions. One of the most famous legends is that of Nien, an extremely cruel and ferocious beast, which the Chinese believe, eats people on New Year's Eve. To keep Nien away, red-paper couplets are pasted on doors, torches are lit, and firecrackers are set off throughout the night, because Nien is said to fear the color red, the light of fire, and loud noises. Early the next morning, as feelings of triumph and renewal fill the air at successfully keeping Nien away for another year, the most popular greeting heard is kung-hsi, or "congratulations."
Even though Chinese New Year celebrations generally only last for several days, starting on New Year's Eve, the festival itself is actually about three weeks long. It begins on the twenty-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month, the day, it is believed, when various gods ascend to heaven to pay their respects and report on household affairs to the Jade Emperor, the supreme Taoist deity. According to tradition, households busily honor these gods by burning ritualistic paper money to provide for their traveling expenses. Another ritual is to smear malt sugar on the lips of the Kitchen God, one of the traveling deities, to ensure that he either submits a favorable report to the Jade Emperor or keeps silent.
Next, "spring couplets" are hung up around the house. Spring couplets are paper scrolls and squares inscribed with blessings and auspicious words, such as "good fortune," "wealth," "longevity," and "springtime." The paper squares are usually pasted upside down, because the Mandarin Chinese word for "upside down," tao, is a homonym of the word "arrival." Thus, the paper squares represent the "arrival" of spring and the "coming" of prosperous times.
On lunar New Year's Eve, family members who are no longer living at home make a special effort to return home for reunion and share in a sumptuous meal. At that time, family members hand out "lucky money" in red envelopes to elders and children and stay up all night to welcome the New Year. Chinese people have long believed that staying awake all night on New Year's Eve would help their parents to live a longer life. Thus, lights are kept on the entire night--not just to drive away Nien, as in ancient times, but also as an excuse to make the most of the family get-together. Some families even hold religious ceremonies after midnight to welcome the God of the New Year into their homes, a ritual that is often concluded with a huge barrage of firecrackers.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year has a great history. In other traditions, by this time in the year, most resolutions - made on December 31 - have been subtly forgotten and placed in a cupboard marked "maybe next year." However, all hope is not lost, as there's a second chance to start afresh with the celebration of Chinese New Year on February 12th.
The Chinese New Year is very similar to the Western one, swathed in traditions and rituals.
The origin of the Chinese New Year is itself centuries old - in fact, too old to actually be traced. It is popularly recognised as the Spring Festival and celebrations last 15 days.
Preparations tend to begin a month from the date of the Chinese New Year (similar to a Western Christmas), when people start buying presents, decoration materials, food and clothing. A huge clean-up gets underway days before the New Year, when Chinese houses are cleaned from top to bottom, to sweep away any traces of bad luck, and doors and windowpanes are given a new coat of paint, usually red. The doors and windows are then decorated with paper cuts and couplets with themes such as happiness, wealth and longevity printed on them.
The eve of the New Year is perhaps the most exciting part of the event, as anticipation creeps in. Here, traditions and rituals are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing. Dinner is usually a feast of seafood and dumplings, signifying different good wishes. Delicacies include prawns, for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters (or ho xi), for all things good, raw fish salad or yu sheng to bring good luck and prosperity, Fai-hai (Angel Hair), an edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and dumplings boiled in water (Jiaozi) signifying a long-lost good wish for a family. It's usual to wear something red as this colour is meant to ward off evil spirits - but black and white are out, as these are associated with mourning. After dinner, the family sit up for the night playing cards, board games or watching TV programmes dedicated to the occasion. At midnight, the sky is lit up by fireworks.
On the day itself, an ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red Packet, takes place. This involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money in red envelopes. Then the family begins to say greetings from door to door, first to their relatives and then their neighbours. Like the Western saying "let bygones be bygones," at Chinese New Year, grudges are very easily cast aside.
The end of the New Year is marked by the Festival of Lanterns, which is a celebration with singing, dancing and lantern shows.
Although celebrations of the Chinese New Year vary, the underlying message is one of peace and happiness for family members and friends.
New Year Painting
Folk New Year wood engraving was basically an art of Chinese farmers. The natural and simple strokes frankly expressed their desires. Most of the New Year paintings are decorative, colorful and interesting as they have consecutive plots. They are appreciated by ordinary Chinese citizens and farmers and are very easy to produce. The painting draft is first engraved on wood and then printed, or the outline of the painting engraved and printed and then the blanks are filled with pens. It was the only method of producing pictures on a large scale before the invention of modern printing technology.
There are many types of New Year's Wood Block Paintings. The Gate Gods are pasted on doors and, according to their roles, there are the main gate god, secondary gate god, back gate god and wing room gate god. There are also New Year's Wood Block Paintings of the God of Stove, the Village God and the God of Wealth. At Spring Festival time, New Year engravings of various types are put in every corner of the room and courtyard, imparting a strong festival atmosphere.
As time went on, the backward and superstitious content of New Year pictures gradually disappeared, but the style was preserved as a popular art form. Over the past five decades, Chinese folk artists have created some new wood engraving forms to portray reality. In the 1950s and 1960s, New Year's Wood Block Paintings became very popular among the people, and new printing technologies were adopted to speed printing and increase the number of copies. Until now, no other painting form has achieved a larger publishing volume than New Year's Wood Block Paintings.
Taohuawu prints of Suzhou
Suzhou was once the most prosperous region of the Chinese Empire. In addition to the region's economic prosperity, it also produced scores of Chinese intellectuals and artists. Beginning in the 16th century, Taohuawu woodblock printing played an integral role in this area's cultural heritage and history.
Mianzhu New Year Painting
Mianzhu year painting is a member of the main four year paintings of China. It is a type of folk woodblock picture in the southeast of China and produced in Mianzhu County,Sichuan Province. It originated at the end of theMing Dynastyand the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, and flourished in the Guangxu Period of the Qing Dynasty. In the process of making it, people print ink line with woodblock and paint it in various colours.
Yangliuqing New Year Painting
One of China's three famous folk New Year picture styles, Yangliuqing New Year pictures originated in Yangliuqing Town, in the western suburbs of Tanjin City, in the early 17th century and flourished in the Yongzheng Period and the Qianlong Period of the Qing Dynasty. Adopting the method of integrating block printing and hand-colored decoration, it is coloured after the image appears on the link lines. The characters' countenances and attires are painted in lead powder in golden colour and characterized by varied themes, such as brightness, vivacity, happiness, auspiciousness and fascination, they are very popular. The pictures by the young people in Yangliuqing have enjoyed a high reputation in China.
Yangjiabu New Year Pictures
As the saying goes, "Yangjiabu came into being first. The kitchen god was born next." It proves the long history of the block printing Yangjiabu New Year pictures.
Zhuxian Town Woodblock New Year Pictures
With a history of over 800 years, Zhuxian Town Woodblock New Year pictures are one of the oldest folk woodblock arts in China. Local people still adopt the traditional techniques to produce New Year pictures now.
Puhui New Year Painting
Puhui New Year Painting was originated by the wang in Gaomi. At the early of the Ming Dynasty, Pupui Year Painting had won great reputation. It passed by the refining through mang dunasties. Then the technique is excellent.Craft has only charm. Experts praise that PUHUI Year Painting is the strage flower of Folks Art .