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Paper Gods – God of Wealth

2012 January 21
by Amy Huang

God of Wealth
Caishen 財神
Early 20th Century
Woodblock print over-printed in red
119 × 57 cm

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Paper Gods – God of Gardens and Trees

2012 January 21

God of Gardens and Trees
Yuanlin Shushen
園林樹神      
Early 20th century
Hand colored woodblock print on paper
47 × 34 cm

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The Civil and Military Gods of Wealth Come

2012 January 21
by Amy Huang

The Civil and Military Gods of Wealth Come Bringing Treasure,
Wealth, Rank, Glory, Florescence for Ten-thousand, Ten-thousand Years
Wen Wu Caishen lai jin bao, fugui ronghua wanwan nian

文武財神來進寶,富貴榮華萬萬年
Poster reproduction of a Late Qing period (1644-1911) print
98 × 56 cm

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Farmers Celebrate A Year of Good Harvest

2012 January 21
by Amy Huang

Farmers Celebrate A Year of Good Harvest
Zhuangjiaren le qing fengnian
莊稼人樂慶豐年
Originally printed by the Qi Jianlong 齊建隆 workshop,
Yangliuqing, Tianjin 天津楊柳青
Late Qing period (1644-1911) print
Collector’s inscription dated to to the dingwei 丁未 year (1847 or 1907)
Poster reproduction
98 × 56 cm

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The Embodiment of Harmony Brings Good Luck

2012 January 21
by Amy Huang

The Embodiment of Harmony Brings Good Luck
Heqi zhi xiang
和氣致祥
Early 20th Century
Taohuawu village, Suzhou 蘇州桃花塢
Wood-block print with added colors
79 × 61 cm

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Let There be Spring in the Six Directions

2012 January 21
by Amy Huang

Let There be Spring in the Six Directions
Liuhe tongchun
六合同春
Modern reproductions of a pair of traditional
wood-block prints
Hand painted prints with over-printing
Mianzhu, Sichuan Providence 四川綿竹
40.5 × 26 cm

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The Traditional Chinese Home

2012 January 21
by Amy Huang

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Chinese doors

2012 January 21
by Amy Huang

The entryways of early Chinese homes are typically unpretentious and simple; the doors themselves are rarely painted or carved. Exterior doors are rectangular, made out of two leaves of solid wood or narrow boards held together by braces. They open inwards leading into the courtyard, and are usually left open throughout the day. On one hand, this creates a link between the household and the world outside; at the same time, it separates the public from the private. Sometimes, half-gates are outside the main doors to provide some division of private space when the doors are open.

Iron or brass pulls that also serve as knockers adorn some doors. Fixed locks were uncommon, as security was maintained by having someone at home at all times instead. When gates and doors were locked from the inside, the lock would involve either a sliding wooden or metal bolt (menshuan). Nowadays, these include a common tumbler lock and key set. Also, newer brass pulls are often emblazoned with auspicious imagery such as the Chinese character shuangxi for double happiness.

(This section is based on Knapp, Ronald G. China’s Vernacular Architecture: House Form and Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989.)

Baba Doherty

Door Guardians

2012 January 21
by Amy Huang

Pair of Door Guardians
Menshen
門神
Early 20th century / Contemporary
Poster reproduction of hand-colored woodblock print         
Originally designed and printed by Yangliuqing, Tianjin 天津楊柳青
98 × 56 cm

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Contemporary Auspicious Images

2012 January 21

The styles and traditions of Chinese auspicious images and wild excess have transcended the ages and changed very little.  The mediums and processes, however, have evolved as new technologies allow for more people from all different walks of life to obtain such images for their homes.  A fitting testament to this evolution is the depiction of the God of Wealth (Caishen 財神), clad in his traditional robe, with his ruyi (“如意, Everything-as-you-wish” ) scepter and all sorts of riches surrounding him.  A high-tech holographic finish, demonstrating the wealth and excess that the New Year celebrates, has replaced the traditional woodblock printing method, bringing good fortune into a 21st century context.

Signs of our own time join traditional wishes for wealth in the iconography of a pair of child figures, one male and one female bearing Chinese and American currency respectively.  While classical garb and style of depiction remain, the display of wealth and prosperity have been taken to a new level as the bank notes dwarf the children, bestowing upon the owner wishes of, quite literally, “big money.”

Austin Snyder