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Name: Folk Handicrafts - CULTURE OF CHINA SERIES
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Serial Number: 7119031171
Manufacturer Name: Research & Learning
Stock Status: In Stock

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  • ISBN 7119031171
  • Hardcover : 107 Pages / illustration / 190mm X 170mm
  • Foreign Languages Press (2002)
  • In the treasure house of Chinese civilization, arts and crafts are shining pearls. Many archaeological excavations of cultural sites have led to discoveries of beautiful bronze ware and jade dating from the Shang Dynasty (c.1600-1100B.C.), life-size terracotta warriors, horses and chariots of the Qin Dynasty (221-206B.C.). In this heritage also are the Imperial Palace treasures of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, as well as the mysterious and colorful religious art of the Dunhuang and Longmen grotto murals and statues. But besides these artistic attainments made in pursuit of lofty intellectual or religious ideals, China has a rich tradition of folk crafts, which are another window through which one can view and understand China's ancient civilization.

    In the age of primitive agricultural civilization, folk crafts were omnipresent, and could be seen in the people's clothing, food, housing, transportation, rites and ceremonies, religion, productive labor, and many other realms. By means of folk crafts, the people expressed their esthetic feelings and wishes for good fortune. Many folk crafts directly originate from ancient instruments of sorcery, representing the vestiges of the original totem, fertility, ancestor and deity worship. Lacking scientific knowledge, they sought help from supernatural forces when facing illness or disasters. Among the most common motifs in folk craft patterns are those that express hopes for bumper crops, a growing family, healthy children, personal health and longevity. Others show religious influences, such as the yin-yang and eight diagrams patterns. Included in this category are representations of gods of the door, hearth and longevity, and the Eight Immortals. In addition, people made images of animals, real or mythical, which they considered lucky -- dragons, phoenixes, tigers, lions, bats. Fish, lotuses, peonies, pomegranates, gourds and other things which benefited man were also favorite motifs. The Chinese people's concept of the dragon combined a deer's feet, a snake's body, a chicken's claws and a lion's tail, all of which were considered auspicious characteristics.

    Even in the most remote times, people fashioned folk art objects. Evidence of this is a clay whistle excavated from a Paleolithic site at Huaiyang, Henan Province, and a pottery flute discovered at Banpo Village in Shaanxi Province.

    The makers of folk crafts throughout the ages have been mostly women in the countryside, whose knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation. From a very young age, Chinese girls in the countryside engaged in paper cutting, embroidery, making dough figures and other craft activities to beautify the home; being "clever and deft" was one of the standards for judging good daughters-in-law. Every market day, there was always a large folk crafts bazaar, and in the cities and towns there would be temple fairs during the holidays, at which folk crafts figured prominently.

    Folk crafts, no matter in what form they are manifested -- paper-cuts, embroidery, dough figures, toys, carvings, shadow plays, printed and dyed fabrics, masks, puppet shows, weaving, pottery, and others -- embody the people's everyday experience, and their myths, legends and history.

    A Chinese proverb goes: "After ten 1i (about five km) the manners are different; after five Ii the customs are different." China's vast territory, with its wide variety of climate, topography and ethnic groups, has given rise to a rich tapestry of folk art, many categories of which have been saved from extinction by the efforts of scholars and others over the past century or so.

    Now, China's folk art treasures, representing thousands of years of creativity by ordinary people may be seen in all their glory.


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