New Year Pictures
New Year pictures are a popular Han folk art that originated from the Menshen drawings. They are a common folk craft and are traditional Chinese paintings. During Guangxu's period in the Qing Dynasty, the government officially named this craft as "New Year Pictures". They are mainly used for decoration during the Chinese New Year holidays and that custom still survives in most parts of Chinese cities.
Brief History of New Year Pictures
New Year Paintings are supposed to show auspiciousness and represent people's wish for good luck. Traditionally, they were created for warding off evil spirits and aiding people's wishes for a good harvest and ancestor worship. They reflect people's spiritual beliefs in many ways and the themes of the pictures vary in range. From the original peach woods, Tiger God and golden pheasant to the later Zhao Yun, Zhong Kui and Yuchi Jingde, people's beliefs and worship patterns have changed.
During the Song Dynasty, putting up New Year Pictures began to grow in popularity. At the same time, with the adoption of metal printing and other new printing technology, woodblock printing gradually declined.
Main Distribution of New Year Pictures
The wooden printed pictures of Zhuxian town in Kaifeng city is the birthplace of the Chinese wooden printing pictures. They proved to be very popular in Bianjing (today's Kaifeng), the capital of the North Song Dynasty as well as the economic, cultural and political centre of the country. It possessed a strong flavour of rural life of the northern people.
Tianjin Yangliuqing is the habitat of the New Year Pictures in China. Yangliuqing in the Ming Dynasty was a town south of the canal which took up the vital position between north and south hence the style of the paintings are mixed with the wildness of the north and the gentleness of the south. The wooden printing pictures of Jiangsu Taohuawu are the typical Jiangnan style; more exquisite and elegant.