Saturday, 22 December 2012

Chinese Door-god: Chinese Folk Arts

Chinese door-god is the god guarding families away from devils for folks and Taoism, always you will see door-god in the New Year pictures for good luck and wishes in the New Year, as a part of Chinese traditional folk arts. When Spring Festival's eve or the day before it, each and every family purchases Spring Festival couplets (pasted on gateposts or door panels), stamping couplets and pictures with door-god on the door. It is the first thing in the New Year.

As the origin of door-god, there are also some legends and popular stories. After Xuanwu Gate Incident, Li Shimin (Prince of Qin, Emperor Taizong in Tang dynasty later) killed all families of his brothers: Li Jiancheng(Crown Prince) and Li Yuanji (Prince of Qi), even babies. At night, Li Shimin often heard bricks and tiles throwing, crying and yelling when sleeping, restless at whole nights. He often had nightmares, dreaming his brothers of coming to kill him with ghosts and monsters and quite feared, sleepless. Therefore, he ordered his two generals: Qin Shubao and Yuchi Jingde to guard with weapons, and then he can sleep at ease. However, the guarding without sleep for long time made these two generals sick, so Li Shimin ordered drawing them on the pictures, stamping on the door to frighten ghosts and devils. This is just the origin of door-god.

Another is recorded in Journey to the West (Pilgrimage to the West): an old dragon of Jing-river bet with a fortune teller, making mistake in heaven. The Jade Emperor sent Wei Zheng to oversee the execution of the old dragon. One day before that, old dragon begged Li Shimin to intercede for him and Li promised it. One the second day, Li asked Weizheng to play the game of go in the palace. Wei dozed off and killed the old dragon in the dream. The dragon hated Li of breaking his promise, and always made troubles in the palace as ghosts. Wei sent Qin Shubao and Yuchi Jingde to guard with weapons, standing before the door. Old dragon dare not make it. Li asked drawers to draw them, stamping their pictures on the door, also in effect. Therefore, such action also spreads in the folks. Qin Shubao and Yuchi Jingde become door-god.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Shadow Play-Chinese Folk Arts Story

Shadow play, or lampplay (leather-silhouette show) originates in China, and then goes round the world, one of popular Chinese puppet shows for folks. The silhouette figures are made of animal skis or paper panels, operated to perform with the lighting, behind of white curtain. When performing, the artists operate the figures, telling stories with the local music and tune.

Shadow play is an ancient Chinese folk art and Beijing folks call it donkey leather-silhouette show (Lv Pi Ying), dating from the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 24)in Shaanxi, famous popular in Dynasty Qing in Hebei. The painted colors mainly refer to red, yellow, blue, green and black. In the old times when Medias are not developed such as movies and televisions, shadow play is once quite popular.

Regarding the legend of the beginning of shadow play, Ms. Li died of illness around more than two thousand years ago, who is the favorite wife of the emperor wudi of Han dynasty. He was drunken in the memory of his wife, even ignoring the state affairs. Minister Li Shaoweng came across a kid playing his doll and its shadow seems vivid on the ground one day. Li cut the Ms. Li’s figure with cotton fabrics, painting colors and fixed wood poles in figure’s feet and arms. When night falls, he set up a curtain and lighted candles, performing the shadow play. The emperor was quite glad to appreciate it, comforting him of his sick for Ms. Li. This love story is recorded in “History of the Han Dynasty”, regarded as the origins of shadow shows.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Chinese Kites-Chinese Folk Art Story

The invention of Chinese kites involve with various stories and legends. It is said Modi, a great Chinese thinker and statesman in ancient time makes wood birds with three years and Lu Ban improves the materials for kites manufacturing with bamboo, the originator of architecture, further developing into today’s kites. Someone say Cao Xueqin is also a famous kite maker who is the renowned author of “Dream of the Red Chamber”.

Kites are the earliest aircrafts in the sky and apply to the same principle of modern airplane in theory. The pulling force of ropes causes relative motion with air, leading to the lift force upward.

Story of Bamboo Hat and Leaves
Bamboo hat is an ancient tool against rain and sunstroke, simple and easy to make for materials. One day, one farmer was working, suddenly big wind blew off his bamboo hat. He hurried to chase and caught the rope. Fortunately, the lope is quite long and hat flies like a kite in the sky. Farmer has much fun for that and often taught others to fly hat in the future, evolving into today’s flying kites.

In southern, the ancients adored the blowing of leaves in the sky and had the fun to fly leaves with linen, later developing into kite flying. As for Gaoshan nationality in Taiwan and Li nationality in Hainan, they make kite with the leaves of breadfruit trees in early times.


Story of Sailing Boat and Tent
Human being has a long history for the usage of wood boats, dating back to more than 2000 years ago, and then sailing boats. It is said that they have had sailing boats in the period of Yu the Great. Sail powers by wind and people flied kites according to the same principle.

Regarding tents in the northern, people say the earliest kites are made based on the phenomenon of blowing tents in the violent wind, gradually developing into entertainment tool later.

Story of Flying Bird
Driven by the passion for flying birds, kites are invited for seeking good life. According to the history materials, Modi made a wood bird for three years, however, it was broken only flying one day. Such “wood bird” is the earliest kite in China.

Story of Li Ye
Kites are invited by Li Ye in the period of Five Dynasties. According to recording, Li made kites in palace, capable of flying and whistling when wind flowing into the bamboo hole in the sky.