Archives for posts with tag: wood block print

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New Year Prints are traditional decorations for the Chinese New Year, the theme of these wood block prints are most often blessings and well wishes.

This year to celebrate the Year of the Ram, over 100 prints we have collected over the years will be on show and available for sale.

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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W270 X H400mm, China

This pair of wood block print is not about blessings but scene from a opera story “Return to Jing Zhou”, set in the 3 Kingdom Period.
Click here for the full story about Return to Jing Zhou and a print from the Yangliuqing school of the same theme.

What is interesting about this print is the carving, 明正德九年雍山老人藏板 (stamp collected by old man of Yongshan in the year 1515 of the Ming dynasty) on the stamp.  It is unlikely that the prints were made by the stamp collected in Ming dynasty but from a duplication of it.  What these prints offer is a glimpse of the opera in the Ming dynasty and are often refer to in the historical theater research.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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W260 X H350mm, China

After the description from yesterday’s post, would you be able to tell whom these Gods are?

The two prints are of the same theme, Fu shou and Xi (Blessing, longevity and happiness).  This particular print is from the school of Zhuxian which are characterized by bolder lines, vivid colours and more dramatic composition.  The school of Zhuxian is recognized as one of the 4 main schools of Chinese wood block printing.  The print from yesterday’s post with finer lines, more detail description and paler colours are from Yangjiabu school, one of the most popular school in the Ming and Qing dynasty.

It is interesting to compare two prints of the same theme and see how the artisan depicts the prints, almost like saying the same phrase with two different dialect.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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W370 X H650mm, China

The recent generations of the Chinese are familiar with the Gods – Fu Lu Shou, the trio that stood in the prime location of the living room almost like an alter piece.  Its only recently that I discovered that they are no a trio but a group of five!  Nowadays rarely seen together, the five are made up of Fu, Lu, Shou, Xi and Cai.

Fu – God of Blessing – dressed in red robe holding large “ru yi” scepter
Lu – God of Fortune – holding a decree from the Emperor
Shou – God of Longevity - old man holding cane and peach
Xi – God of Happiness – holding a kid
Cai – God of Wealth – holding golden ingot

In this print, the trio are Fu in the middle with Shou on the right and Xi on the left.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

reopen hours

W160xL220mm, China

Kung Kee Fat Choy!

Here is a new year print for the official reopening of the shop after Chinese New Year, 開市大吉.  The two cocks is again a homophonic heterograph play on the word lucky, 吉 (Ji), and the word cock, 雞 (Ji).

So we are back in business today, come and take a look!

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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W560xH340mm, China

Every year on the birthday of the Queen Mother of the West, 3rd of lunar March, there will be a peach party and all the saints will be invited and feast on special peaches.  A bite of these magic peaches will make one immortal but there are extremely rare, they take 3000 years to flower, 3000 to bare fruits and another 3000 years to ripe.

In the middle of the wood block print is the Queen Mother with two of female saints by her sides.  Below, holding a bowl full of peaches is the Monkey King who mischievously stole some of the peaches.  On the left side of the Monkey King is the God of longevity with his deer on the Monkey’s right.  The crane by the God of longevity is saint Dong Fang Shuo who was so obsessed with tasting the magic peaches that he turned into a crane in order to be nearer to the peach. The 8 saints joining the party are Eight Immortals –  from (left to right, top to bottom) are Philosopher Han Xiang Zi (with the xiao pipe), Philosopher Han Xiang Zi, Lan Cai He (with magic basket), Leader Lu Dong Bin (with sword), Royal Uncle Cao Guo Jiu (with castanets),  Iron-Crutch Tie Guai Li,  Immortal lady He Zian Gu (with magic lotus) and Elder Zhang Guo Lao.  Click here to see the symbolism of the magic tools.

This word block print will make an ideal birthday present.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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W560x H340mm, China

In old China, society is generally organised by different class, it would be extremely difficult to excel beyond where one is set to belong.  In the Siu dynasty, a system for selecting a top official post was introduced.  By way of a series of literature examinations, unlimited by one’s background the best is chosen purely from his knowledge.  The scholar who comes first in the examination is known as the Zhuang Yuan and would be appointed directly by the emperor.  It therefore became every parents’ dream for their son to become the Zhuang Yuan. After his appointment the Zhuang Yuan would parade from the capital all the way home.  The villagers are proud to welcome the scholar home, in fact so proud that the alley where he used lived would be renamed.  In this print, the gate on the left is known as “Zhuang Yuan Place”.  In front of the gate, leading the parade are two soldiers bang on the gongs and carrying the banner 状元及第 “Zhuang Yuan Ji Di” (the new title of the scholar) and 連中三元 (coming first in all three exams).  Behind them, the two men with flower decorated hats are the Zhuang Yuan and the one in armor the military Zhuang Yuan (who came first in martial art).  What more can one wish for if a family can have 3 sons all to become Zhuang Yuan!  On the sky, there is a ghostly figurine, he is Kui Xing, the saint in charge of who becomes Zhuang Yuan.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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W570xH430mm, China

Dragons are supreme mythical creatures, even the Emperor are symbolised by the dragon.  It is believed that when the carp fish can jump through the narrow section, known as the Dragon Gate, in Chuan Jiang River it will become a dragon.  Every year during spring time, at the down stream of the Dragon Gate gathers thousands of fish, because of the pinch in the stream the current is especially strong and being upstream only the most capable fish can make it through the gate.

The transformation from fish to dragon is a blessing parents wish for their children, from the ordinary carp into the mythical dragon.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

File-8---DW-006-一團和氣W450xH680mm, China

On the top of the print is a hanging bat symbolizing the arrival of blessing.  The word upside down (倒) “dao” shares the same pronunciation as the word arrived (到) “dao”, while word bat (蝠) “fu” with the word blessing (福) “fu”.

Hanging on the mouth of the bat is a Buddha’s hand fruit, a symbol of happiness and a peach which symbolizes longevity.

This rounded figure is known as “yi tuan he qi” – Harmony, which is a blessing for oneself, the family, the country to the world at large.

The figure originally comes from the painting of the same title by the Ming emperor, Zhu Jian Shen, featuring the Maitreya in a lotus meditation pose.  On closer look, there are 2 scholars on either side smiling at each other with their knee touching.  The Maitreya embraces the 2 scholars with his head bend, revealing his bald head.  The 3, Buddhist, Taoist and Confucius are in harmony with each other.

一團和氣

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

File-3---C11---3016-2-灶君府W340xH530mm, China

Today the 24th day of lunar December is the day to thank your Kitchen God.

It is believed that the Kitchen God has spend a year blessing our food and our cooking (which one must be thankful for!), apart from this he has been monitoring our virtue and evil deeds and will depart in the morning to report to the Jade Emperor.  To thank him for his hard work and to avoid any slip up with his report, special food has to be offered for this occasion.

  • A bowl of water and a bowl of rice – to signify that the Kitchen God to be pure and impartial.
  • Sugarcane – the node of the sugar cane forms the ladder for the Kitchen God to reach the sky.
  • Rice cake – to make his mouth sticky so no bad things would leak out
  • Satsumas, tangerines and red Sugar – to sweeten his mouth
  • Paper Horse, black robe and boots – costume and transport for his journey to the Jade Emperor
  • Cheat Sheet – a yellow piece of paper with words chosen by the family

Now I wonder what happened to the bowl of rice and water …

Click here to see our other Kitchen God prints.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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