The Study of Yangliuqing New Year Picture
Sounds of firecrackers beckon the first day of a new year, as the spring breeze warms the medicinal wine. Thousands of households under the brilliance of a morning sun, replacing wooden door charms of yesteryear.” Wang Anshi’s poem “Yuan Ri” depicts an uplifting scene of joy and activity, as well as the refreshed atmosphere during Chinese Lunar New Year. Since ancient times, people have been practicing the custom of replacing old with new, by attaching various New Year pictures such as “Door Gods” to refresh the outlook of one’s entrance as a sign of good blessings and fortune. The initial stage of this artistic form might date back to the 3rd century B.C. when there was a record of warriors drawn on peach boards. In the 10th century (the Song Dynasty), with the development of the engraving typography, the New Year picture became an independent category and presented colourful prints. The period from the 14th century to the early 20th century (the Ming and Qing Dynasty) were the heyday of New Year pictures. Their workshops were spread all over the country, comprising those such as Yangliuqing of Tianjin, Taohuawu in Jiangsu Province, Wuqiang in Hebei Province, Yangjiapu in Shandong province and Fengxiang in Shaanxi province. Among them, Yangliuqing’s New Year pictures are highly reputed as the “pinnacle of quality” within the art of New Year painting, renowned for their exquisite engravings, delicate colourings, rich diversity of styles as well as huge influence.
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