Also known as paper paintings and painted pictures, New Year paintings is a unique art form in Chinese folk culture. The paintings are called New Year paintings because they are mostly posted during the New Year holiday for decoration and they are also a symbol of New Year's greetings.
New Year paintings appeared around the Tang Dynasty, replacing the previous door pictures featuring gods believed to be able to protect the residents and drive away ghosts. In the Song Dynasty, New Year paintings were created on a considerable scale. With the advancement of printing technology, the content and forms of New Year paintings became more diversified. The development of the paintings matured in the Ming and Qing dynasties, when the art hit its heyday. Traditional printing methods of New Year paintings include woodblock printing, stone block printing, offset printing, traditional Chinese painting, watercolor painting and sketch etc. Woodblock printed New Year paintings are the most popular ones and at the same time they are most interesting.
As decorative paintings for the New Year, the paintings mostly feature auspicious and joyous subjects. Simple lines, bright colors and happy atmosphere are combined to define New Year paintings, which capture all jubilant festive customs and life details as well as anecdotes, stories from traditional opera novels and folktales etc. The creation of New Year paintings are closely linked with people's daily lives and have strong local features.
China's most well-known production locations of New Year paintings include Yangliuqing of Tianjin, Yangjiabu of Weifang in Shandong, Taohuawu of Suzhou in Jiangsu and Foshan of Guangdong. In addition, calendar-picture New Year paintings of Shanghai and Mianzhu paintings of Sichuan also hold important positions in the development history of New Year paintings.
As a folk handicraft, New Year paintings embody people's best wishes for the future. Every lunar New Year, almost all Chinese families post two New Year paintings on the front door in the joyous atmosphere, symbolizing good luck and wealth. New Year paintings, a pioneer in Chinese folk art, reflect the development and changes in the history, life, religious beliefs and customs in Chinese society.
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