A family art

By Wang Qian and Ju Chuanjiang ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-02-26 08:47:49

A family art

Yang Luoshu, 88, the 19th generation of a Yangjiabu New Year painting family, shows off an ancestral woodblock of his family's dating back to the Ming Dynasty. Photos by Ju Chuanjiang / China Daily

A family art
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A family art
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Woodprint paintings are traditionally hung in homes around Spring Festival, but for the artists, creating the pictures is a yearlong activity and a lifetime of dedication. Wang Qian and Ju Chuanjiang report.

The Spring Festival has only just finished. But despite the festive celebrations having ceased for another year, a centuries-old folk art workshop in Yangjiabu village in Weifang, Shandong province, is still busy making Chinese traditional woodprint New Year paintings for customers.

In a dusty, somewhat cramped, residence-cum-studio, Yang Luoshu, 88, successor of the family workshop named Tongshunde, prints pictures one at a time, using a big brush made of palm fibers.

He applies colors to the raised surfaces of a carved woodblock, places a piece of rice paper on it, then brushes it smooth to apply the first color. After several rounds, a picture of figures from the classic Chinese novel Outlaws of the Marsh begins to take shape.

Advanced in years, Yang has a hunched back, but he is still quick with his hands. In half an hour, he has finished a dozen paintings with delicate patterns and bright colors. "These paintings will be well bound and sent to a customer in Hong Kong who just ordered 1,000 copies," Yang says with a smile.

"It's been a family business for hundreds of years." As the 19th generation of a painting family, Yang learned the craft when he was 7. He was named a "master of folk arts" by UNESCO in 2001.

Together with 15 experienced craftsmen, Yang's workshop makes 150,000 New Year paintings every year.

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