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Wood-block Paintings Being Revived

Local cultural officials from this port city in north China said yesterday they will pour more money into protecting Yangliuqing pictures, one of the country's best wood-block New Year paintings.


The municipal government of Tianjin is planing to invest 100 million yuan (US$12 million) annually for the next seven consecutive years to protect and develop folk culture and art, said Zhao Wanxiang, deputy director of the Tianjin Municipal Culture Bureau.


He spoke yesterday at the opening session of the four-day seminar on protecting and developing Yangliuqing wood-block New Year pictures, which started yesterday.


The development of Yangliuqing New Year pictures is expected to benefit a lot from this ambitious plan, according to Zhao.


Being one of the most excellent wood-block New Year pictures in the country, Yangliuqing New Year pictures originated from the town of Yangliuqing in a western suburb of Tianjin in the early 17th century.


Zhao said a museum will be established next year in Tianjin to accommodate excellent folk arts including Yangliuqing New Year pictures.


Thanks to efforts made by city cultural officials since the late 1950s, the folk art of Yangliuqing has been preserved very well.


Liu Jianchao, president of the Tianjin Yangliuqing Fine Arts Press, said his company has collected over 6,500 ancient wooden blocks for making New Year pictures, with the oldest from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).


A batch of well-chosen old wooden blocks and some ancient New Year pictures were displayed for the first time in the city on the sideline of the seminar.


Liu said his company has employed 95 professional artists to make the Yangliuqing pictures, which have been displayed in more than 20 countries, including the United States, France, Australia, Singapore and Japan as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Taiwan Province.


The New Year pictures are made mainly by combined techniques of wood-block printing and hand painting.


Ingenious and unique in composition, fresh and smooth in line, vivid and life-like in form, and strong and rich in the flavor of life, Yangliuqing New Year pictures generally feature ancient beauties, lovely children, folk customs or stories from classical operas, myths and legends.


(China Daily August 31, 2004)

Folk Art Adds Festivity
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