China has a wide variety of arts
and crafts with exqui-site workmanship. They can be classified into
special and folk types.
Special arts and crafts, such
as ivory carving, jade carving and Shoushan stone carving use precious
or special materials, and undergo elaborate designing and processing.
They are elegant and expensive.
The following are famous special
arts and crafts.
The major ivory carving centers
are Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. Beijing is mainly famed for
ivory carvings of figures of ladies, as well as flowers and birds.
Guangzhou is well known for its exquisitely carved ivory balls.
Shanghai is famous for its delicate ivory figures. The ivory carvings
are exquisitely executed and lifelike. However, the technique of
ivory carving is gradually declining for lack of materials.
Jade carving takes into
consideration the natural lines, luster and colors of jade. Craftsmen
ingeniously integrate the colors with the shapes of the art works,
fully displaying the glory of nature.
Stone carving is created
using various rare types of stone, such as the Shoushan Stone and
Carved lacquerware, shaped
like bottles, pots and large screens, is created out of pure lacquer.
Usually bright red, it is classically elegant and beautiful.
Cloisonne is a kind of
handicraft well known at home and abroad. The blue glaze produced
during the reign of Emperor Jingtai of the Ming Dynasty is considered
the best. Created by mounting copper strips and plating gold and
silver on the surface of a copper roughcast, it looks resplendent
and magnificent. The products include bottles, bowls, and cups used
as prizes, etc.
Chinese folk arts, with
a broad mass foundation as well as a long history, contain profound
cultural and historical connotations. They can stimulate people’s
aesthetic sense and appreciative taste. Throughout the ages, Chinese
folk arts have had a strong local flavor as well as a national style,
different in postures and beautiful beyond appreciation.
In technique, Chinese folk arts
fall into the categories of cutting, bundling, plaiting, knitting,
embroidering, carving, molding and painting.
Cutting includes papercuts,
paperengravings, papercut silhouettes, paperfolding, paper sculpture,
and leather-silhouettes, all of which evolved from papercuts.
Bundling includes kites
and colored lanterns bundled up with paper, silk or bamboo.
Plaiting, a popular folk
art, includes various straw or thread plaited articles. The products
include cloth tigers, cool pillows, cushions, tiny fragrant bags,
colored silk balls, shoe-pads, and velvet flowers and birds.
Knitting, including wax
printing, bandhnu, color printing, drawnwork and flower knitting,
is created by weaving, knitting or stitching.
Embroidering includes picture
weaving in silk, printing and dyeing. China’s four famous styles
of embroidery are those of Suzhou, Hunan, Guangdong and Sichuan.
Carving includes art depictions
of various shapes, such as masks, puppet heads, figures, animals
and flowers, which are created with bamboo, wood, jade, or horn.
Molding includes dough
modeling, clay sculpture, frozen butter sculpture and pottery sculpture.
The products serve not only as ornaments but also as children’s
Painting involves such
techniques as hand painting, incision, patchwork, and pyrograph,
each having a style of its own.
China is the home of
chinaware, porcelain being produced in both the south and north. Famous
porcelain-making centers are Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province and Liling
in Hunan Province in the south and Tangshan and Handan in Hebei Province
and Zibo in Shandong Province. The long-lost techniques of the celebrated
ancient porcelain kilns such as Longquan, Jun, Ru, Guan, Cizhou and
Yaozhou have now been recovered, “like old trees putting forth new
blossoms” as the saying goes. The purplish brown sandy potteries of
Yixing, the noted pottery center in Jiangsu Province, are much sought
after for their classic elegance and splendid luster.