Woodblock prints add festive flavor to holiday season
About 100 historic woodblock prints, or Chinese New Year paintings, are being exhibited at a downtown museum.
The woodcut prints being displayed at the Shanghai Luxun Museum feature Chinese Lunar New Year traditions, celebrations, customs, and historic figures and gods from traditional Chinese culture.
The exhibition at the museum (200 Tian’ai Road), which is inside Luxun Park, is free and runs until March 8.
The folk art is a combination of woodblock carving and hand painting. In ancient times, the prints were mass-produced and displayed for those who could not read. That's why they feature simple lines in bright and warm colors.
“The exhibition aims to showcase traditional folk art and promote the festive tradition of printing the paintings during the Chinese New Year,” an official with the museum said.The woodcut is traditionally an auspicious symbol to dispel devils on the Lunar New Year.
Woodblock artists will teach visitors how to print their own artworks between February 22 and March 1.
Exhibits include 12 century-old prints that were collected by Lu Xun (1881-1936), pen name of Zhou Shuren, one of the most famous Chinese writers of the early 20th century.
The other 85 pieces are from Beijing Art Museum and cover several mainstream schools of woodblock print across the country.
Many traditional Chinese gods are portrayed in the paintings, such as the gods of fu, lu, and shou, meaning happiness, fortune and longevity, respectively. Menshen, or Gate Gods, are put on doors as protectors of the family.
Although the woodblock custom has always been closely associated with rural life in China, it’s now popular among both tourists and residents in big cities like Shanghai.
Typical local-style woodblock prints named Xiaojiaochang are being displayed at the Yuyuan Garden area. The art is named after its place of origin — Xiaojiaochang in the city’s Laochengxiang, or Old Town, near Yuyuan Garden.
They depict city life in the early 1900s, with locomotives, telephones, nightclubs, circus performers, Westerners enjoying the Lantern Festival, and other aspects of life not traditionally reproduced in Chinese folk art.
The Huabao Tower in the area is exhibiting 44 replicas of the century-old prints. It is free of charge and open until March 5.