Archives for the month of: January, 2012

DIA360xH110, China

Bamboo basket (tray like) used to be a common household item; in the days when refrigerator is not so common, the weaving of the bamboo strips avoid trap moisture and made the vegetable and fruit stored last longer.  Apart from the everyday use, the bamboo tray basket also feature on the wedding day, when the bride leaves her parents home a respected female of the family will use the bamboo basket to shield the bride from the sun.


W80xD120xH150mm, China

These are roof ridge tiles called the cat shingles, in the Yun Nan area each house would have one placed on the center of the roof ridge with its back toward the courtyard and facing the outside.  Although they are called cats, they are actually resemble tiger (you can see this by the 王 sign on their forehead, this is a symbol for all the Chinese tiger figurines).  It is believed these tiger figurines are capable of  protecting the household by eating up all the demons and bad feng shiu.  On the day when the cat tile is set on the roof, a special ceremony will take place (on a even number day in lunar feb or aug) which involve feeding the tile cat dates and nuts, a sprinkle of  chicken blood, chants, incense, burning of paper, followed by member of the family petting the cat and finally the awakened cat will be placed on the ridge.  On the 1st and 15th of every lunar month, incense will be offered to the cat.

DIA100xH220mm, China

This cute little man is in fact a gourd!  It doesnt have the normal “8” shape (see entry Small Gourd) as it was been formed with the string bounded technique.  When the gourd is still green and tender, a string is fastened to it tightly, the string is use as a guide and restriction for its growth, by the time when it is ripe and fully grown a certain shape is formed.  This reminded me some of Araki Nobuyoshi’s work, perhaps both has a feeling of manipulation and distortion.  The drawing on the gourd is done by a technique known as heat engraving; a metal needle is inserted into a large joss stick (finger thick), the joss stick is then lighted up, using the heat the score skin of on the air dried fruit, creating a mark.  The heat can be lowered by clipping away portion of the burning joss stick.  There are different needles for different lines and shade; mainly, the pointed set for lines, horse shoe shape set for shading and knife shape for smoother lines.  Now the function of this little man, its a toy cricket cage for children to keep their pets.  The man will be at a headstand position with the lid on top, the shape of the gourd will give a resonance for the song of the crickets.

For the bamboo cage, see entry cricket cage

W180xD230xH140mm (300mm when opened), China

Ladies like to put makeup on and look pretty and the Chinese ladies are no difference.  The concept of the Chinese vanity box has been around since the Sung dynasty; the mirror being part of the lid, can be folded away inside the box.  The little drawers store all the essential rouge, eye liners etc.  This box is decorated with the mother of pearl inlay.

DIA60xH80mm, China

Today is the 5th day of the Chinese New Year and the day for welcoming the Money God, the Money God has his four assistants will visit and bless randomly a handful of people.  On the day of the 5th, you might notice that shops and households trying to draw their attention with fire crackers or food in front of their statue (or nowadays the free posters that come with the weekly magazine).

It is a toy for the drinking game since the Tang dynasty, after wobbling, the person he is looking at will have to drink up!  This money god roly poly toy is made of paper with clay as a weight.

W500xH900mm, China

Previously we talked about preparing the Kitchen God for his report to the Jade Emperor, traditionally today (4th day of Chinese New Year) is the day to welcome him back to the household.  (see Kitchen God Wood Block Print-12/04/2011)  The feast would be the same as that is served for welcoming a guest that has travelled from afar.  Everyone in the household has to be present so he can keep his censors for the new year correctly.

This wood block print was from the 26th year of the Republic of China, i.e. 1938.  Every year a there will be a new calendar for the Kitchen God.  The two gods in the middle are the  Kitchen God and his wife, on the upper row is the god of fertility, the 4 gods on either sides are 3 categories of saints (upper, middle and ground), the lower 4 are the junior money gods and the money bringing kid and the pair of door gods.  For this particular kitchen god, his schedule is tighter then the one traditionally practice, he departs for the Jade Emperor on the 23rd eve and returns on the 5th hour of the New Years day.

L130xH50xW50mm, China

Traditionally, this is one of the Chinese New Year gift a child will receive from their parents as a blessing for the year.  The story behind the tiger shoes goes like this; once upon a time in Yang Zhou, there is a kind heart boatman called Daai  Yang, one day came an elderly traveller who appreciated Daai Yang’s attitude and gave him a painting.  In the painting, there is a beautiful young lady stitching up a pair of tiger shoes.  Daai Yang really like the painting and hanged it up immediately when he got home.  That night, the lady in the painting came to Daai Yang, after a year of courting she bear a boy, for him.  The head of the village heard about this miracle and snatched the painting from Daai Yang, hoping that the lady will do the same for him.  The village head waited night after night but nothing happened.  Daai Yang and the son was very sad but helpless against the villain village head.  One day he met the old traveller again, she told Daai Yang to make a pair of tiger shoes for Xiao Hu and they will meet the wife again.  When the son worn the shoes Daai Yang made for him, the shoes grew wings and delivered him to the village head, the shoes then turned into a pair of tigers and chased the villain away.  The mother came down from the painting and the family lived happily ever after.  Since then tiger shoes took on a name of being able to protect the child.  RRrrrrrroarrrrR!

W140xL180xH160mm, China

Everyone must have seen the dragon dance during Chinese New Year, ever wonder how the dragon head is constructed? Here is a miniature version of the bamboo structure that goes under the paper or cloth constructed skin (which belongs to a dragon kite). Bamboo stripes are bend and tied together at junction points with a paper knot. For the actual performance piece the structure will be will be stronger and bolder. The body is made with piece of red cloth with resembled the scale of the dragon, with rods every 1.8m apart for the dancers to control the body. The length between the head and the tail can go up to 4m. Another dancer will raise a sphere for the dragon to chase.

In a traditional dragon dance, in a ceremony the body of the dragon will be invited out from the Dragon King Temple, the head and the tail will be attached and only then will the eyes be drawn on the dragon. Dragon is a creature both respected and feared by the Chinese, being the leader of the 4 spiritual creatures, it is believed to be able to control the sea and the weather, make it calm and peaceful or cause the wave to become furious. After the performances of the dragon dance, the head and the tail will be dismantled and burnt, only the body will returned to the temple to be kept for next year’s dragon dance.

W150xH200mm, China

Mountain Folkcraft wishes you at happy, prosperous, healthy year of the Dragon!

W300xL300xH80mm, China

On Chinese New Year and the few days after, it is traditional to visit family and friends to give them good wishes in person.  Every household would prepare a box filled with goodies to entertain their guests.  The box would contain a set of porcelain dishes so that an assortment of snacks and sweets can be displayed.  The common items to be kept are, melon seeds, sugared melon, coconut, lotus seeds, lotus root, candied kumquat, fried dumpling, sweets, nuts, etc.

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