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99.Tianjin Yangliuqing Spring Festival Painting:a re-invigorated cultural heritage from agrariansociety    2008-09-22 13:51

A senior person, Wang Wenda, is stooping andcarving a wooden board attentively with a graverin a workshop of several square meters. As oneof the four inheritors of the intangible culturalheritage of Yangliuqing Spring Festival Painting,Wang has been improving his craftsmanshipcontinuously ever since he was an apprentice.

As one of the four types of New Year paintingsin the world, Yangliuqing Spring FestivalPainting is now flourishing, invigorated by boththe government sponsorship and the marketdemand. According to preliminary statistics,more than 100,000 paintings of this kind aresold annually.

In the Tianjin Traditional Culture Street severalkilometers away, Yangliuqing Spring FestivalPaintings can be seen throughout the area.Spring Festival is the busy season of the YangliuqingSpring Festival Painting sale. People buythe paintings either as gifts or as collections.Paintings of different sizes are taken by touriststo all over the world.

Spring Festival Painting is an art form of Chinesefolk culture. During the lunar New Year inChina (Spring Festival), people buy Spring FestivalPaintings to adorn their rooms, celebratethe occasion, keep away evil spirits and prayfor good fortune.

The technique for Yangliuqing Spring FestivalPainting is “half printing and half painting”,whose procedure is first carving linings forthe picture on a piece of wooden board, thenprinting the picture in ink on a piece of paper,and hand-coloring the picture after severalsingle-color printings. The unique combinationof the flavor of woodblock prints and the colorfulnessand subtlety of hand-painting makesthe painting stand out from other types of NewYear paintings.

“Yangliuqing Spring Festival Painting, rooted inan agrarian society, is a ‘living fossil’. It is thefruit of Chinese culture and at the same time,a mirror reflecting the local people’s life andcustom,” said Zhang Zhong aged over 70, afamous folk art expert and member of TianjinResearch Institute of Culture and History.

Yangliuqing Spring Festival Painting has a historyof more than three hundred years, originatingfrom Emperor Chongzhen’s reign in theMing Dynasty and it enjoyed its prime time beforethe Guangxu Emperor’s reign in the QingDynasty. At that time, many households inYangliuqing Town and the neighboring villagesin Tianjin were running Spring Festival Paintingworkshops. It is said that during that period,“every family knew how to paint” and it is fromits birthplace, Yangliuqing Town, that the paintingderived its name. After the Opium War, thearea was afflicted and the painting industrydropped seriously.

In 1958, Tianjin Yangliuqing Painting Societywas established, protecting this endangeredart form from being wiped out. Presently, thesociety has a collection since the Ming Dynasty,of more than 100,000 paintings and over6,000 ancient woodblocks, and it also keepsthe complete traditional manufacturing techniquefor the painting.

In 2004, the Ministry of Culture endorsed TianjinYangliuqing Woodcut Spring Festival Painting as“Trial Item of Traditional Chinese Folk Art ProtectionProject”, starting the work concerningthe art form’s history, sorting and research.In 2005, National Art Museum of China heldthe “Tianjin Yangliuqing Woodcut Spring FestivalPainting Collection Exhibition” and createdquite a stir.

In 2006, the painting was listed on the first editionof “State-Level Intangible Cultural Heritage Directory”,ranking first in the category of Fine Arts.

In 2007, Yangliuqing Spring Festival PaintingSociety was listed as one of “Tianjin’s OldBrands”, becoming a brand product of Tianjin.

Apart from the society, many folk Spring FestivalPainting workshops have sprung up sincethe 1990s. At present, Wang Wenda, FengQingju, Huo Qingshun and Huo Qingyou arenominated as inheritors of Yangliuqing SpringFestival Painting. After the Huo Brothers, therehave been approximately 50 Spring FestivalPainting workshops, more than 60 Spring FestivalPainting shops and over 700 people whowork in the manufacturing and distributingfields of the industry in Yangliuqing Town, withthe annual turnover totaling more than 10 millionyuan.

The manufacturing of Yangliuqing Spring FestivalPainting is now well on the track of industrializationand becoming more influential. Manycountries, including Japan, France, Britain, Italy,Thailand and Singapore, have held exhibitionsfor this unique Chinese folk art.

Yangliuqing Spring Festival Painting Art Center,a project totaling several dozen million yuan,will begin its construction in Tianjin this year.    Editor: Zhao Jing
Preparatory & Coordination Committee of Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2008