Weaving products are hand-woven grass, bamboo, willow, rattan, palm, jute and straw articles for daily use. Weaving materials are abundant, to a degree. Laborers learned to obtain materials from local sources a long time ago. They weave a variety of practical supplies and art displays with their deft hands. The technology is exquisite, the assortment is plentiful, the style is novel, and the modeling is pleasing to the eye. These daily-use articles brim with simple and natural beauty.
Bamboo and grass weaving products are some of the most common. Bamboo weaving products represent our national folk tradition for making daily-use handiwork, and bamboo weaving requires diverse skills. In China, the most famous places for bamboo weaving products are Dongyang, Chengzhou in the Zhejiang province, and Yiyang in the Hunan province. Grass weaving products are widely distributed in China. These products are soft, portable, plain, and generous. Celebrated productions include Shandong grass weaving, Ningbo grass weaving, and Longshang grass weaving. In addition to bamboo and grass weaving products, vine weaving goods, willow weaving goods, palm weaving goods, and jute weaving goods also make their mark. Full of traditional characteristics, they are extremely popular with many people.
Dongyang is rich in bamboo and its conditions are favorable for the bamboo weaving industry. Bamboo weaving in Dongyang was especially strong during the Song Dynasty. With dragon lanterns, flower lanterns, and revolving lanterns being made there, it has a reputation as “the hometown of bamboo weaving.”
Dongyang bamboo weaving is used to make more than twenty products, including baskets, plates, bags, boxes, bottles, jars, and furniture. Animals woven from bamboo include chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, and dogs, among others.
The woven products create vivid and exaggerated images. The more delicate Dongyang bamboo weaving products are woven with 120 tiny bamboo strips to craft an area of one square inch, creating a vivid and dynamic model. Ma Xuanhua, a handicraftsman of Dongyang bamboo weaving created a large-scale piece, the “incense burner cabinet,” using more than 30 techniques, and assisted with the bamboo carving, engraving, and gilding. The technique was exquisite, and the piece was displayed in Beijing at the Zhejiang Hall of the Great Hall of the People. It was later shown in the USA, Japan, and Hong Kong, among other locations. In 1984, the large-scale piece, “Nine-Dragon Screen,” won the golden cup of the Chinese Arts and Crafts Hundred Flowers Awards and was appointed a treasure of the state. Currently, there are twenty-one major Dongyang bamboo weaving products, and more than 3,000 assortments of goods are sold in over 60 countries and regions worldwide.
Shengzhou bamboo weaving
Shengzhou bamboo weaving products, a sort of famous handicraft in our country, enjoy great fame at home and abroad. Here, laborers used various and plentiful local bamboo with dexterous hands and wove simple, unadorned, pragmatic, square-bottomed bamboo baskets more than 1600 years ago. Over time, the bamboo weaving technology has advanced and the skill of weaving has been perfected, gradually becoming an elegant and characteristic Shengzhou handicraft. Twelve kinds of products, including baskets, sets, bottles, boxes, jars, byobus, animals, buildings, personages, furniture, toys, and lamps are made, along with more than 6,000 assortments. Product quality is the best in the entire nation, and received the golden cup medal of the Chinese Arts and Crafts Hundred Flowers Awards in 1982, continuing its tradition of winning the golden cup for seven years. In 1989, Shengzhou bamboo weaving won the gold award in the first Beijing international exposition.
Traveling merchants at home and from abroad appreciate the products, which are very competitive in the international market. They are praised as “the first bamboo weavings in China and in foreign countries.”
Daijia bamboo weaving
The Dai family is good at bamboo weaving. If you have the chance to be a guest in Daixiang, you will enter into a bamboo-weaving world when stepping into the pleasingly unconventional bamboo building. Everything, including the walls, the carpet, seat cushions, interior display furniture articles for daily use, a wardrobe, a small mess lunch box, a stool, a summer hat, a rain hat, small baskets carried on the back, are made from bamboo weaving. The numerous bamboo weaving handicrafts are simple and unsophisticated, with an attractive and pragmatic look and of the best quality. Cinnabar is used on the inside, and gold lacquer on the outside. Printout peacock feathers line ornaments and have inlaid a five-color glazed pattern. The piece, beautiful and imposing, is offered as a sacrifice in Buddhist temples.
A stem or leaf of cattail grass weaving, with maize skin grass weaving straw, is the most common grass weaving product by the people of Shandong.
Grass-weaving articles are classified based on their usage. Articles include baskets, boxes, sets, tea pads, cushions, chopstick containers, meal boxes, strainers, pot covers, fans, dish sieves, flowerpot covers, wastepaper baskets, message inserts, teacup covers, grass toys, among others. Clothing items include straw hats (the bowler hat, child caps, bamboo hats, sun helmets, coarse headgear), straw sandals (traditional winter “nest with cattail” and a variety of slippers and sandals), a palm-bark rain cape, and a cold maize skin shirt, among other items. Also made are grass screens, grass carpets, light umbrellas, wall decorating paper, and grass wallpaper, in the building and interior decoration categories.
Moreover, there are many semi-finished products made of grass plait, along with a variety of weaving goods, step goods, string goods, and nail goods, based on different handicrafts.
As traditional handicraft artistic products and a family of handicraft industry products, grass weaving products extend over several areas, with a focus in the Shandong Province, as well as Yan Tai City, Wei Fang City, the Bin Zhou City area, the Liao Cheng City area, Qing Dao City, and Ji Nan City.
Ningbo grass weaving
Ningbo grass weaving enjoys a high reputation. The Ningbo grass weaving article abounds in natural resources, being made of seat grass, wheat pole, salty grass, stem or leaf of cattail, Chinese alpine rush, and maize shell. Locals are skilled in traditional grass weaving—except for the straw hat—and weave grass baskets, carry bags, grass fans, straw slippers, grass tea cushions, and various floral designs.
Longshang grass weaving
Longshang grass weaving refers to straw plaited works of art from the eastern regions of Gansu Province. The five main areas of production are Ding Xi County, Ping Liang City, Qing Yang County, Tian Shui, and Long Nan in Gansu. Tianshui grass weaving uses the wheat straw, maize skin, and rattan as materials. The Ping Liang City grass weaving articles use wheat straw and reed grass. Actors carry out drawings, embroidery, printing and dyeing, and arrange flowers on straw plaited articles. The artistic value of grass weaving articles improves greatly by adopting modern fine art designs and models through simple, unsophisticated shapes and elegant quality. This handicraft article combines practical utility with beauty. Representative products of Longshang grass weaving are straw plaited embroidery articles and straw marking models of the animals represented in the twelve years of the Chinese zodiac.
Qiyang grass mat
The Qiyang grass mat has an age-old history of more than three hundred years. The workmanship is meticulous, the surface of the mat is glossy, the pattern is artistic but unaffected, and its luster is luminous. Sweat does not stick to the body when sleeping on this grass mat in the summer, as it is comfortable and smooth. The natural fragrance of grass mat brings the freshness of the mountains and plains to the person. Qi Yang county grass mats enjoy a good reputation and products sell well all over the country, as well as in seven or eight countries.
This is a one-of-a-kind traditional Chinese painting that refers to drawings on a plank. Since these drawings on a plank resemble walls, they are classified as murals. Another kind of “inscribed wooden slip painting” is drawn on inscribed wooden slips, and is also a type of plank painting.
The Yang Liu Qing Woodcut New Year Pictures in Tianjing
These drawings are neat and orderly, the picture composition is evenly balanced, the colors are vivid and soft, the ink line is bright, the personage are handsome, and its content is lively. These drawings are popular and their decorative effect is intense. The subjects have color and vary, such as plump babies, calendar paintings, door gods, jar fish, boundary paintings, lucky happy events, bumper grain harvests, among others. Most of the paintings show people in a joyful mood during Lunar New Year's Day. They also tell novel stories, such as “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and “Pilgrimage to the West,” “A Dream in Red Mansions,” and “The Romance of West Chamber.” The most famous works include “Seremban Lotus Fish,” “All Things are Fine,” “The Unicorn Spits Out the Jade Book,” and “Carp Presents a Treasure.” Today, the Yang Liu Qing woodcut New Year pictures have become in high demand by foreign shoppers and market quotations rise as high as a rainbow. Some collectors pay 50,000 yuan for tradition works like “Be Sentenced to Martial Art” and “Zhong Kui” of the Qing Dynasty. You can imagine the value to a collector. One should pay attention to the drawing’s appearance when collecting Yang Liu Qing Woodcut New Year pictures. The New Year’s pictures from the early stages belong to a rare collection and the requests can be relaxed. The New Year pictures have used, whose value is only one-third of the entire appearance New Year pictures.
Taohuawu Woodblock New Year Pictures in Suzhou
The Taohuawu Woodblock New Year pictures in Suzhou, a unique type of art, inherit the block painting skills of the Song Dynasty and have a long history of close to one thousand years. During the Yongzheng period of the Qing Dynasty in the Qian Long region, the Taohuawu of Suzhou was the center for New Year pictures in southern China. Tianjin Yang Liu Qing shines brilliantly with this artwork, called “south peach north willow.” There are numerous types of Taohuawu Woodblock New Year pictures. One type of printing using water chromatography, has a grand general appearance, with delicate sculptures reflecting the social life and folk customs at the time. Representative works are Gu Su Chang Men Tu and Gu Su Wan Nian Qiao, among others.
Yangjiabu Woodblock New Year Pictures in Weifang
Yangjiabu of Wei Fang city in Shandong Province is famous for producing traditional Chinese New Year pictures. This practice originated during the Ming Dynasty about six hundred years ago (in 1369), and has a long-standing history and a distinctive artistic style. It expresses the peasant’s longing for happiness, luck, and a good life using expressive methods such as symbols, implications, hyperboles, etc. The subject matter is broad and the content is abundant.
The pictures mainly include door paintings, strips of beautiful women, Mao Fang Zi, golden boys, Fanggong writing paper, horizontal scrolls bearing inscriptions, good fortune character lanterns, slide window pictures, hanging scrolls, central scrolls, traditional operas, auspicious omen bird beasts, and current affairs. The Yangjiabu woodblock New Year pictures are known for their compendious lines, gorgeous colors, intense contrasts, full compositions, rich imagination, and deep meanings. They use an antiquated block chromatography skill. Currently, the pictures include both precious ancient traditional New Year images limited to prints dating from the Ming and Qing Dynasties and modern New Year pictures inheriting and modernizing the essence of the traditional Yangjiabu woodblock New Year picture. People are delighted with these pictures, and have higher appreciation for art and the value of collected historical material through the content and the form. Folk art amateurs at home and abroad, as well as professionals, study and collect these treasures.
Zhuxianzhen Town Woodblock New Year Paintings
Zhuxianzhen Town’s woodblock New Year paintings have a long history and a worldwide reputation. The enjoy equal fame with the Yang Liu Qing woodcut New Year pictures in Tianjing, the Taohuawu Woodblock New Year pictures in Suzhou and the Yangjiabu woodblock New Year pictures in Weifang. The content is rich, and the style is unique with distinct national flavor. The lines are fluent, crude, and succinct. The form is various and the types are numerous. There are door god cooking stove grandfather images, door pairs of scrolls containing a poetic couplet, Buddha, a picture or statue of a god, vertically hung scrolls, and others.
The paintings include historical drama, folklore, and the familiar story of the Divine Land and a life full of the spirit of the times. Lu Xun has appreciated and collected a large number of Zhuxianzhen Town’s woodblock New Year paintings during his lifetime. He says, “Zhuxianzhen Town’s woodblock New Year paintings are plain without cosmetics, the personages are simple, the color is dense with a heavy village taste, and the paintings are characteristic of north wood engravings.”
When a painting was exhibited and sold at Beijing in 1983, forty-two countries competed to buy it. The art is praised as a Chinese national treasure and has been collected in the Central Academy of Fine Arts Gallery, Shanghai Lu Xun Memorial Hall, the Winter Palace Museum of Russia, and in Japan and France, and other places. The composition of the painting is full and well proportioned; the color is pure and intense, and the paintings adequately illustrate the simplicity and honesty, enthusiasm, bold and unconstrained character of the people of the Central Plains, and a temperament, interest, and appreciation for beauty. The paintings have very high artistic value and receive favorable comments from art circles both at home and abroad.
Mianzhu New Year woodblock prints are one of four Chinese New Year prints, and represent the king of folk painting art. The colors are gorgeous and the contrasts are intense. The drawing method is different from that of other images, as it reserved the character of the plank seal line and the handwork colored drawing. “Fill the water foot” is the treasure among them.
The Four Types of Mian Zhu New Year Pictures
Modern New Year picture: the Mian Zhu Woodblock New Year Picture agency was set up in the middle of the1950s after the founding of new China. The artist followed the development of society, weeded through the old and brought forth the new to create a batch of up-to-date New Year pictures reflecting the realities of social life.
Dou Fang New Year picture: the content is new and original and the subject matter is broad. The works are satires with implied meanings, such as "The spring government official steals the wine pot," "Mammon bitten by a dog," "The mouse marries a daughter." These traditional Chinese paintings of beautiful women are fresh and lyrical. Operatic highlights of the Sichuan Opera are humorous. The model is vivid, the composition is lively, and the vivid shades are luxurious. This allows a person to recollect the pleasant flavor of the profound appreciation of beauty.
Ancient printing plate rubbing: The Mian Zhu New Year Pictures Museum has preserved more than 140 types of New Year woodblocks for prints dating back to the Qing Dynasty. These woodblocks reflect the real conditions for painting at that time and preserve and pass along the marvelous art of ancient wood carving.
Central Scroll New Year picture: This is a representation of the traditional Mian Zhu New Year pictures. It is bigger than ordinary New Year pictures and its content is about good fortune and happiness, offering birthday congratulations, and other congratulations. The paintings are delicate and exquisite, suitable for hanging in sitting rooms.
Mian Zhu door god: Mian Zhu Nianhua is called a door god, and its content relates to generals, civil officials, and children. They are placed at entrance doors, reception room doors, and bedroom doors. The door paintings depicting “fill the water foot" are a peculiar breed of the Mian Zhu door painting, and are freehand brushwork door paintings created extemporarily by the artist. “Fill the water foot” is grand and magnificent, its style of writing is vigorous, and its romantic charm is sheer and abstract. People enjoy this style because of its innocence, simplicity, and unadorned and rough appearance. It is the best way out among Mianzhu New Year wood-block prints and valuable in particular. Mianzhu New Year woodblock prints have been collected by hundreds of museums of all over the world and tens of thousands of experts, scholars, artists, and collectors.
The cork picture, also known as the wooden picture, combines carving and drawing. The hue is plain, the carving is exquisite, and the image is lifelike. During ancient times, they appeared on pavilions, terraces, and towers of our country. The cork picture, with its bodiless lacquer ware and Shoushan stone carvings, received the reputation of the Fuzhou craft, “The three treasures,” by people at home and aboard. Chen oak from Spain, Portugal, and the Middle East is used in the cork pictures. The cork is airtight, waterproof, and without chemistry. The material is light and soft, inflammable, and resistant to corrosion and wear. It is also very elastic. The grain of the wood is tight and natural, and the tone is elegant and pure.
Creating a cork picture includes selection, carving, splicing, and adorning the frame, and reflects the artistic technique of “To see the great vision within the small” and “several hundred miles of Cordillera within in a frame.” The plane of the picture is like a multilevel wall hanging, as if creating a two-sided transparent screen. Cork pictures illustrate poems that make people feel a part of the scene. Recently, artists have created vases, smoking paraphernalia, large screens, freestanding and folding screens, and hanging scrolls full of temperament and detail, based on the cork picture technique and paint powder.
Inner painting is a characteristic form of art in China. Artists take glass crystals as the kettle base and use thin, made-to-order deformation pens to draw exquisite and delicate pictures on the inside of a bottle, whose mouth looks like a legume. When drawing, the artist’s spirit converges in the lower part of his abdomen and energy comes from the wrist. These paintings are exquisite beyond believe and the workmanship is uncanny. Its fame is that of an art treasure that is peculiar, magnificent, and rich, and reflected in its value as a collectible piece.
The Chinese inner painting originates from the snuff bottle. In the Jiaqing and Daoguang region during the Qing Dynasty about four hundred years ago, snuff, which made people lose their sanity, entered China. During this time, painting inside the bottle became a new and favorite handicraft. It was then developed, enhanced, and glorified. Many traditional inner painting works of art exist, such as inner painting snuff bottles, inner painting furniture for display, inner painting Buddha pearls, inner painting liquor portraits within painted bottles, inner painting cigarette lighters, inner painting perfume bottles, and so on. Painting in a bottle a work of art that combines calligraphy, painting, and the making of the bottle.
Select transparent or semi-transparent cigarette kettles as the raw material, to allow inside picture to display distinctly. These kettles are made of glass, crystal or agate. Use a made-to-order shorter leg pen (a 20-centimeter bamboo pole whose top is cut sharply and made into a curved hook; some require binding of weasel's hair on top) to enter the inside of the snuff bottle and draw in the polished inner wall (place emery, iron pellets to hold it in place, and water, then plug the mouth of the bottle and shake; this procedure is called “string of chamber”) in the opposite direction.