Straw patchwork is a well-known Chinese art and boasts a history of over 2000 years, as evidenced by ancient relics. It traces its roots to folk art, originating as handicrafts used by local governments to pay tributes to emperors during the Sui Dynasty. This artwork constitutes the essence of Chinese folk art, and has a distinctive national characteristic.
Straw patchwork is handcrafted, and takes full advantage of the straw’s natural glow and its material to depict landscapes, flowers, animals and human figures. The visual images and wonderful handicraft is not only a good reflection of profound traditional Chinese culture, but also a wonderful artwork used as decorations.
The straw patchwork is exquisite with its choice of material, because of its good natural sheen of a golden color. The artistic techniques used in straw artwork are borrowed from many other art forms such as paper cut, print, paste, painting, etc. Each patchwork requires a process that is more than ten steps long. The process includes polishing, bleaching, steaming, ironing, pressing, and cutting of materials. The process cleverly combines together a variety of techniques showcasing skilled workmanships, such as traditional Chinese parings and printing, which works in sync with the straws natural colors.
All these techniques bring forth a rich expression of the straw artworks, making it a unique art form with artistic features that is both simplistic yet elegant.
Then what is wheat straw? Wheat straw has long been regarded as a sacred object in Chinese beliefs. It is said that Liu Xiu, the Dong Han dynasty emperor, was hunted by his enemies before he ascended the throne. He had no choice but to hide in wheat straw, which immediately changed into wood to protect him. Since then wheat straw has been considered a symbol of good fortune. So the Chinese people made wheat straw patchwork, a unique art form devoted to the royal court.
Modem pieces are produced by combining modern production techniques with the traditional techniques. Modern art techniques are applied in the manufacturing process, for example, evaporation, dissection and ironing. But it is filled with a rich Chinese countryside flavor. The final products portray Chinese flowers, birds, worms, landscapes, buildings, people and fashions. The quality of the workman ship combined with outstanding artistry further contributes to the work's lasting value.
Straw patchwork owes its popularity to its bright vibrant colors which does not fade and its simple, lifelike designs. The artifact is a combination of primitive simplicity and elegance of exquisite craftsmanship. Furthermore, it is able to retain its original texture and color for up to thousands of years without aging or fading.
This ancient art disappeared for awhile but was soon revived in the 1970s, when these ancient straw patchwork relics were discovered.
The straw patchwork, with its excellent detailing showcasing the works of talented Chinese artists, are highly enjoyed and appreciated by both the Chinese and Westerners. It is used to both decorate and beautify homes and offices, and is also often given as gifts.
SOURCE : cultural-china.com
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