INHERITORS: Yangliuqing New Year Paintings

On May 20, 2006, Yangliuqing New Year Paintings were named as part of China’s national intangible cultural heritage. The new year painting tradition can be traced back many centuries, to the Ming dynasty and beyond, reaching the height of its popularity in the Qing dynasty. There are no restrictions on the theme of the paintings, and there is no blessing they cannot convey. Yangliuqing New Year Paintings are loved all over the country for their beautiful details and vivid colors, but most of all for the good wishes they impart to anyone who sees them.

The Yangliuqing New Year Painting was among the arts that appeared on China’s first-ever list of its national intangible cultural heritage. One of the foremost exponents of the art is Huo Qingshun. At the age of 20, he began studying woodblock printing, taught by his father. This started him on his way to learning the whole range of skills required by a new year painting artist.

Zhang Hong, a seventh generation inheritor of the Yangliuqing New Year Painting art, has opened her own studio. Here, besides painting, she also teaches. By imparting the skills and knowledge she has accumulated over the years, she hopes more people will learn to enjoy this art.

Numerous stories are associated with Yangliuqing New Year Paintings. A local troupe decided to tell some of them through the medium of dance. As a result of their efforts, static paintings, such as “Children Competing for the Lotus”, have been brought vividly to life. It’s as if the children have jumped out of the picture to play their game on stage.

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