The Chinese wood carving

The Chinese wood carving contained two branches: wood carving of art, and wood furniture sculptural.

The wood carving of art is an old-line art in China; it can be traced back to the New Stone Age. Our ancestors mad the articles for daily use with the simple stone tools, and the primitive art of wood carving accordingly appeared. Although wood works were hard to be preserved, especially after thousands of years, we are handpicked some of them, in order to give you a contour of this storied arts of China

At mention of wood furniture, there are also tow parts: reproduction of Ming style; and the modern padauk furniture. The Ming style furniture is adored by more and more people all over the world by reason of its sententiousness, liveliness and idiographic rondure. That is the reason why Ming style furniture occupied a very important place in the worldwide furniture history. Full together the ancestral workmanship and contemporary aesthetics, the modern rosewood furniture is created a new fashion that we could enjoy and have further choice.

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stone lion

The earliest stone lion (shí shī 石狮) was discovered in a Eastern Han Dynasty tomb in Ya’an (yǎ ān 雅安), Sichuan Province (sì chuān shěng 四川省). During the Ming Dynasty (míng cháo 明朝) stone lions were placed in front of palaces, government buildings, temples and even some rich family mansions to display power. Later, stone lion designs were carved as decoration on important architectural features such as door lintels and eaves. Beijing now has many stone lions made during the Ming and Qing (qīng 清) dynasties. These lions do not seem powerful and wild, but rather are kindly and gentle.

The lion was regarded as the king in the animal world so its imagines represented power and prestige. The first lion was presented to China during the Eastern Han Dynasty (dōng hàn 东汉) by a king from the Western Regions (xī yù 西域).

In the Buddhist faith, the lion is considered a divine animal of nobleness and dignity, which can protect the truth and keep off evils. In Chinese folk tales, the lion has become a symbol of bravery, power and good luck. For this reason the stone lions are popular among the people and are commonly seen in front of the gates of ordinary families’ homes. The male lion is on the left with his right paw resting on a ball, and the female on the right with her left paw fondling a cub. The ball played by the male lion symbolized the unity of the empire, and the cub with the female thriving offspring.

It was also popular to decorate bridges with sculpted-stone lions for the same reason. The best known of this is the Lugouqiao Bridge (also as Marco Polo Bridge, lú gōu qiáo 卢沟桥), built from 1189 to 1192. The stone lions on the posts of the bridge are most famous. It is said there are 485 lions in all, but there may be 498 or 501. A famous proverb says “the lions on the Lugouqiao are uncountable.”

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Painted Clay Figurine Zhang

Painted Clay Figurine Zhang” of Tianjin is a popular folk artifact that first started during Emperor Daoguang’s reign of the Qing Dynasty, with a development history of over 180 years. The “Clay Figurine Zhang” painted sculptures raised the traditional clay figuring making to the artistic level of circular engravure, with the adornment of colors and props, forming a unique style. “Clay Figurine Zhang” features a wide range of subjects and is applied with simple and elegant colors, with special attention paid to raw material selection. That’s why the works can last a long time without getting dried or cracked. The figures and animals of “Clay Figurine Zhang” bear resemblance to the real thing in both appearance and spirit.  

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Jade

Jade (Yu in Chinese pinyin) was defined as beautiful stones by Xu Zhen (about 58-147) in Shuo Wen Jie Zi, the first Chinese dictionary. Jade is generally classified into soft jade (nephrite) and hard jade (jadeite). Since China only had the soft jade until jadeite was imported from Burma during the Qing dynasty (1271-1368), jade traditionally refers to the soft jade so it is also called traditional jade. Jadeite is called Feicui in Chinese. Feicui is now more popular and valuable than the soft jade in China.

The history of jade is as long as the Chinese civilization. Archaeologists have found jade objects from the early Neolithic period (about 5000 BC), represented by the Hemudu culture in Zhejian Province, and from the middle and late Neolithic period, represented by the Hongshan culture along the Lao River, the Longshan culture along the Yellow River, and the Liangzhu culture in the Tai Lake region. Jade has been ever more popular till today.

The Chinese love jade because of not only its beauty, but also more importantly its culture, meaning and humanity, as Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) said there are 11 De (virtue) in jade. The following is the translation (don’t know the translator): The Chinese love jade because of not only its beauty, but also more importantly its culture, meaning and humanity, as Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) said there are 11 De (virtue) in jade. The following is the translation (don’t know the translator):

 ‘The wise have likened jade to virtue. For them, its polish and brilliancy represent the whole of purity; its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent the sureness of intelligence; its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp, represent justice; the pure and prolonged sound, which it gives forth when one strikes it, represents music. Its color represents loyalty; its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, call to mind sincerity; its iridescent brightness represents heaven; its admirable substance, born of mountain and of water, represents the earth. Used alone without ornamentation it represents chastity. The price that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth. To support these comparisons, the Book of Verse says: “When I think of a wise man, his merits appear to be like jade.”‘

Thus jade is really special in Chinese culture, also as the Chinese saying goes “Gold has a value; jade is invaluable.”

Because jade stands for beauty, grace and purity, it has been used in many Chinese idioms or phrases to denote beautiful things or people, such as Yu Jie Bing Qing (pure and noble), Ting Ting Yu Li (fair, slim and graceful) and Yu Nv (beautiful girl). The Chinese character Yu is often used in Chinese names.

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Batik

Batik printing is a sort of age-old traditional folk handicraft for fabric printing and dyeing in China. It was named together with tie dyeing and stencil printing as “Three Major Printing Crafts in Ancient China”. Stripes on wax printed cloth result from natural chapping of wax, which is of uncertainty and hence contributes to the uniqueness of every wax printed work. Batik printing is thus known as a sort of cloth painting with “Fingerprints”.  Featuring rich patterns, elegant color and peculiar style, wax printed cloth is used to make costumes, trappings and various living utensils with primitive, novel, eye-catching and ethnic characteristics.

Known as “laxie” in ancient times, batik printing is a time-honored dye-proof craft in China. The traditional craft for batik printing has been spreading in some minority regions in Southwest China and has been inherited and carried forward in minority regions in Guizhou Province. By now, it has served as an indispensable art in the life of women in these regions. Trappings worn by them such as handkerchiefs, belly bands, clothes, skirts and leg wrappings are unexceptionally made by batik printing. Batik printing prevalent in different ethnic minorities in Guizhou Province is provided with diversified features. For instance, wax printed patterns prevailing in the Miao ethnic group are of bronze drum patterns passed down from ancient times. Such patterns also take folk tales or commonly seen flowers, birds, insects and fish as the subject matter. In contrast, geometrical patterns are popular with Buyi ethnics.

Having been handed down from generation to generation in minority regions in Southwest China, the art of batik printing has been endowed with peculiar artistic style and enjoys the fame of “ethnic artistic flower of distinctive Chinese features”. Currently, the primarily self-sufficient wax printed products made by handicraftsmen and women have, together with the “Wax Printed Painting” (a sort of purely appreciative artwork made by people, mainly artists), extended to global market and displayed the unique enchantment of Chinese art.

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embroidery

China is the first country in the world that discovered the use of silk.  Silkworms were domesticated as early as 5000 years ago.  The production of silk thread and fabrics gave rise to the art of embroidery.  Historical documents record the use of embroidery in China as early as 2255 B.C.  Archaeological finds, however, place the beginnings of embroidery at some point during the Shang dynasty(1766B.C.-1122 B.C.)

The Embroidery art became widespread in the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-221A.D.) because of its economic prosperity. Because the number of rich and privileged people increased, the demand for Embroidery is strongly needed.  With a strong supply of raw materials and robust market demand, embroidery flourished.

Embroidery was used for more than just decorating clothes or other purpose.  Chinese Buddhists chose embroidery, which was a symbol of honor and diligence, as their favorite media for portraying Buddhist imagery.  Large in size and scope, the colossal works of “Buddhists embroidery” were in great demand during the Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.)

In the Tang dynasty, Embroidery art had risen to another level- the development of new embroidery stitches.  Prior to the Tang dynasty, the chain stitch was the only way commonly used in embroidery.  In the Tang, the satin stitch was invented and replaced the chain stitch.  The satin stitch has been popular with embroiderers ever since because different stitching styles and new artful patterns are created. 

In the Sung dynasty (960-1280), the Embroidery art was even more successful than before.  First, the satin stitch was permutable and many other new stitches were derived from it.  Second, tools and materials used in embroidery were greatly improved during the Sung dynasty.  Third, the art of embroidery completely merged with the art of painting.  Embroiderers would actually stitch duplicates of paintings by noted painters.

Ming (1368-1644) embroidery has three major distinctive features.  First, embroidery was very popular and was used extensively by people of different social classes for a wide variety of purposes.   Second, the quality of embroidery for practical uses was greatly improved as embroidery materials were refined and embroidering techniques matured.  Third, embroiderers used materials other than silk such as hair embroidery, flannel embroidery, lace embroidery and gold embroidery. 

Embroidery has maintained and flourished throughout the twenty century.

Today, silk embroidery is practiced all over China.  The best commercial product comes from four provinces: Jiangsu, Hunan, Sichuan and Guangdong.  Moreover, embroidery combines the essence of painting and calligraphy and presents traditional Chinese culture through the colorful threads of the skilled embroiderer.

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silk

Silk is a natural protein fibre, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity (sericulture). The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fibre, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colors.

Silks are produced by several other insects, but only the silk of moth caterpillars has been used for textile manufacturing. There has been some research into other silks, which differ at the molecular level. Silks are mainly produced by the larvae of insects undergoing complete metamorphosis, but also by some adult insects such as webspinners. Silk production is especially common in the Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants), and is sometimes used in nest construction. Other types of arthropod produce silk, most notably various arachnids suc h as spiders

China

Silk fabric was first developed in ancient China, with some of the earliest examples found as early as 3,500 BC. Legend gives credit for developing silk to a Chinese empress, Lei Zu (Hsi-Ling-Shih, Lei-Tzu). Silks were originally reserved for the Kings of China for their own use and gifts to others, but spread gradually through Chinese culture and trade both geographically and socially, and then to many regions of Asia. Silk rapidly became a popular luxury fabric in the many areas accessible to Chinese merchants because of its texture and luster. Silk was in great demand, and became a staple of pre-industrial international trade. In July 2007, archeologists discovered intricately woven and dyed silk textiles in a tomb in Jiangxi province, dated to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty roughly 2,500 years ago. Although historians have suspected a long history of a formative textile industry in ancient China, this find of silk textiles employing “complicated techniques” of weaving and dyeing provides direct and concrete evidence for silks dating before the Mawangdui-discovery and other silks dating to the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). The first evidence of the silk trade is the finding of silk in the hair of an Egyptian mummy of the 21st dynasty, c.1070 BC. Ultimately the silk trade reached as far as the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. This trade was so extensive that the major set of trade routes between Europe and Asia has become known as the Silk Road. The highest development was in China.

The Emperors of China strove to keep knowledge of sericulture secret to maintain the Chinese monopoly. Nonetheless sericulture reached Korea around 200 BC, about the first half of the 1st century AD had reached ancient Khotan, and by AD 300 the practice had been established in India.

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Chinese knotting

Chinese knotting is decorative in nature even when making useful objects like buttons or curtain tie-backs. Tracing the evolution of this art form is difficult because little, if any, written reports exist on this subject. Figures of knotting objects appear in painting and sculpture that date back to ancient times. Remnants of these objects are hard to find since, the cords, made of fibers, disintegrate with age.

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, fanciful knots made of silk cords decorated tobacco pouches, eyeglasses cases, sachets and other items. The knots, whether simple or intricate, would decorate other works of art. With the arrival of mass production, the knot works along with other handmade crafts lost its value and nearly disappeared as an art form.

Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 in the mainland, and the withdrawal of the Republic of China to Taiwan, the art of Chinese knotting nearly became extinct but for the few remaining elderly women who still remember how to do it. Lydia Chen, an authorty on this art form wrote in her 1971 book that there was only one master knotter left outside of mainland China. His name was Wang Chen-kai who worked in the National Palace Museum.

During the 70’s and 80’s Chinese knotting became popular around the same time as macrame became popular, specially in the United States. It is the hope of knot tyer fans throughout the world that interest in this art form will increase.

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paper cuts

As a local folk art form in China, paper-cuts display not only that the folks are intelligent and deft but also that their inner world is as colorful and innocent as the peach blossom.
Paper-cut is a seasonal art form. On holidays, festivals, or happy occasions, paper-cuts will be found all over the rural area in an “overwhelming scale”. Every household in every village shall decorate their lintels, edges of beds (kang), ceilings, closets, barns, sacrifices, dead stock and even stalls with paper-cuts so that the whole house and the whole village look prosperous and beautiful. 

Zhongyang Paper-Cut, Shanxi Province

Zhongyang Paper-cut refers to the local art form produced in Nanchuan River Basin inside Zhongyang County, Liujiaping Town and other remote mountainous areas in Shanxi Province. The paper-cuts, whose main themes are based on local customs and beliefs, seasonal changes, life experience, rituals, and mythologies, range from decorative patterns such as fish, snakes, frogs and rabbits, folk custom paper-cuts in accordance with seasonal changes, life experience and rituals, to those works based on folk mythologies. 

Ansai Paper-cut, Shaanxi Province
Ansai Paper-cut is a folk art form popular in Ansai County, Shaanxi Province. On every happy occasion, women in Ansai will make paper-cuts and decorate the windows with them. Their paper-cuts feature various forms, simple and concise styles, rough and clear lines, and simple connotations; they are meant to embody the best wishes for safety and fortune. 

Gaomi Paper-cut, Shandong Province

The unique style of Gaomi Paper-cut was formed in the Hongwu Era of the Ming Dynasty. The works are based on a wide range of themes, such as legends, mythologies, operas, stories, historical figures, flowers, birds, grass and worms. The forms include those for the decoration of windows, walls, ceilings, lamps, doors, weddings, clothes, funerals, etc.

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kite

A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air (or in some cases water) flows over and under the kite’s wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind. The resultant force vector from the lift and drag force components is opposed by the tension of the one or more lines or tethers. The anchor point of the kite line may be static or moving (e.g., the towing of a kite by a running person, boat, or vehicle). Kites are usually heavier-than-air, but there is a second category of lighter-than-air kite called a kytoon which may be filled with hydrogen, hot air, methane, or helium; these stay aloft with or without wind; at calm they float; at wind they receive lift from buoyancy and aerodynamic lift. Kytoons have been made in toy-scale as well as military large scale. Kites may be flown for recreation, art or other practical uses. Sport kites can be flown in aerial ballet, sometimes as part of a competition. Power kites are multi-line steerable kites designed to generate large forces which can be used to power activities such as kite surfing, kite landboarding, kite buggying and a new trend snow kiting. Kites towed behind boats can lift passengers which has had useful military applications in the past.

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