Yangiuqing: A Graphic Village

February 16, 2010

Chinese New Year is a holiday that is quickly approaching. And with that holiday, festive graphic decorations are extremely popular.

Homes celebrating the New Year are often decorated with colorful graphics such as the ones below. Popular graphics come from Yangliuqing, a small town in Tianjin, China. It is one of the earliest places to employ engravers to print New Year Pictures, which were first produced during the reign of Emperor Shundi. A folk artist, who specialized in engraving, came to take refuge in the small town during a time of war in the Yuan Dynasty. He used his special skill with the Chinese jujube tree, which is ideal for engraving, to etch pictures of gods to sell at festivals for a living. Centuries later during the mid-Qing Dynasty, about 100 painting workshops emerged in Yangliuqing and more than 3,000 people engaged themselves in creating New Year Pictures. The town then became known as the home of New Year Pictures nationwide, where "each of its households was good at painting". Most Yangliuqing New Year Picture workshops were named after its creators. For instance, the Dai Lianzen New Year Picture Workshop and Qi Jianlong New Year Picture Workshop of the early period were very famous. Every autumn, businessmen came to Yangliuqing to buy the pictures and then sold them elsewhere. After the founding of new China in 1949, the People's Government paid much attention to inheriting and developing this old folk art that came to combine woodcarving, watermarking and color painting. These New Year Pictures contain subjects of drama stories, beautiful women door gods, images of beauties, birds and beasts, flowers, water and mountain landscapes and characters from dramas and legends. They express prosperity and hope for the future, good wishes and appreciation for life. These Chinese New Year graphics and their history are a great way to start on your next Chinese New Year project. This little town has created a wonderful way to bring in the New Year and with its inspiration, you will, too!

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