Six Prints from Taohuawu Studios

David Leffman Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Here’s a set of six prints showing scenes from Chinese folklore and late nineteenth-century street life, which originally appeared c1876–1910. They are attributed to studios at Taohuawu, a northern suburb of Suzhou which was famous from at least the eighteenth century for its skilled and innovative printing workshops. But during the Taiping Uprising (1850–1864) Suzhou was destroyed, first by the …

Suppression of the Taiping Rebels: 剿滅粵匪圖

David Leffman Uncategorized 1 Comment

Here’s a woodblock Victory Print from the 1850s titled “Suppression of the Taiping Rebels”. Well, more or less; the title actually calls the Taipings粵匪, “Yue Bandits”. The first-century BC Yue kingdom included parts of Guangdong, Guangxi and Vietnam, used here because the Taiping movement began in Guangxi (the rebels were known by other names too, such as “Longhairs”). Anyway, Victory …

Pan Gu: Humans from Parasites

David Leffman Uncategorized 1 Comment

A while back I posted about the Reverend Henry Galloway Comingo Hallock, who in the late 1920s sent stacks of woodblock prints of Chinese gods, bought in Shanghai, back to the US, along with letters describing the deities and seeking funds for his various Church-led causes. I’ve picked these prints up here and there but recently received a cache of …

A Blue Ground Print from Yangliuqing

David Leffman Uncategorized Leave a Comment

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 …

The God of Wine

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The Venerable Wine-Making Immortal, inventor and patron of brewing and distilling (most Chinese “wines” are spirits), shown stroking his beard, surrounded by wine jars. According to some accounts the immortal was a legendary character named Du Kang (杜康), while others identify him as Shao Kang (少康), one of the kings of the Xia era (2070–1600 BC). The couplets either side …

The Immortal Archer Zhang Yuanxiao

David Leffman Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Here’s a woodblock print from Yangliuqing village west of Tianjin, one of nineteenth century China’s most prolific folk-craft centres. It shows the Daoist immortal Zhang Yuanxiao (張遠霄) from Meishan in Sichuan province, driving off the malignant black Heavenly Hound, shown flying away top right on red wings. The hound was believed to cause eclipses by eating the sun, and could …

勅建雞足名山全圖: A Complete Picture of the Famous Holy Mountain, Jizu Shan

David Leffman Antiques, Buddhism, Dali, map, Uncategorized, woodblock, Woodblock print, Yunnan 1 Comment

Here’s a woodblock-printed map of Yunnan province’s Jizu Shan (雞足山) – Chickenfoot Mountain – which peaks at 3240m east of Erhai Lake and the old walled town of Dali. According to the artist Huang Xiangjian, who painted a colour landscape scroll of the mountain in 1656, Jizu Shan got its name because “it is formed with three ridges in front …

Verbiest’s World Map 坤與全圖

David Leffman Antiques, map, Mesny, Verbiest, William Gill, Woodblock print Leave a Comment

In 2016 I was extraordinarily lucky to come across this woodblock-printed world map at an antiques stall in Beijing. (The poor quality of the photo is because they didn’t want me taking one, and I had to sneak it from a distance with my ancient, low-res ipod touch camera. They wouldn’t sell me the print either.) The original version dates …

Cicadas, paper horses, and Chinese gods

David Leffman Uncategorized 2 Comments

Here’s some background to my first ebook, “Paper Horses: Woodblock Prints of Chinese Gods from 1930s Beijing”, which you can find via Amazon or Apple Books. In 2020 I bought an album containing seventy-nine “paper horses” (紙馬) – simple woodblock prints of Chinese folk deities – from a dealer in the United States. Each print was numbered with a sticker …