Xiao Ma Wu in “Spinning Cotton” (小馬五紡綿花)

David LeffmanUncategorized Leave a Comment

Here’s a print by the Dai Lianzeng workshop (戴廉增), Yangliuqing’s oldest-known woodblock studio. Dai Lianzeng himself (1735–1795) seems to have inherited an earlier business dating back to the seventeenth century; by the mid-nineteenth century the workshop was reputedly producing over a million prints a year. They closed in the 1930s. Simply designed and not especially accomplished – the overpainting is …

福善吉慶 Fu Shan Ji Qing

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Here’s an interesting print from Yangliuqing. It’s large, at about 50cm x 95cm, and shows a mother sitting on her day bed with two infant boys, while a maid attends them. The style of their fine clothing and furnishings suggests a wealthy Qing dynasty household.  The picture is packed with auspicious iconography. Each character of the written title Fu Shan …

A Blue Ground Print from Yangliuqing

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Here’s a “Blue Ground” or qingdi print (青地年画) from Yangliuqing showing the master strategist Kongming, aka Zhuge Liang, from the historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. A roundel above contains a generalised lanscape with figures, with a pair of crickets (feeding on some fruit) below. I especially like the crickets. As with most Yangliuqing prints, the outlines have been …

Rank Badge Beasts

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This hand-coloured Chinese woodblock print from Yangliuqing, a famous craft centre outside of Tianjin city in northern China, came up recently at auction. The title, wenjing wuwei (文經武緯) literally means “civil warp, military woof” – the idea that civil and military departments should work closely together to govern the country. In reality, civil officials, who were only appointed after years …

The Tale of White Snake

David Leffmannianhua, Uncategorized, woodblock, Woodblock print, Yangliuqing Leave a Comment

This final woodblock is from Yangliuqing, a village in the western outskirts of the port city of Tianjin (around 150km southeast of Beijing). It depicts a popular folk story, “The Tale of White Snake”, and meets all the requirements of a typical Yangliuqing print: very large (around a metre wide), very detailed, technically accomplished and with most of the colour painted on by hand, rather than printed. I …