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"Jumping over the dragon gate" Folk Art Museum

Chinese folk culture possesses splendid, varied and endless creativity, which is vividly reflected in the visual arts of China. Chinese Folk art is divided into two parts: traditional handicrafts and local art. The former works are mostly produced in the city by professional craftsmen with valuable materials such as precious stones, ivory, gold, silver, and red sandalwood to create art works of supernatural workmanship. However, the latter works are produced in the vast countryside by rural women with simple and ordinary materials such as grass, wood, bricks, stones, bamboo, paper and silk, which are not overly elaborate. They just want to express their feelings and therefore different ethnic and geographic characters are displayed through the works. 

 

The museum mainly focuses on folk art works. It has selected numerous works from various categories to highlight the charm and spirit of folk art. The museum is the core sector of our folk art study school, as well as the workshop of graduates. Its collections are mainly from the collections of Mr. Feng Jicai and his friends. 

The collection in the “Jumping over the dragon gate” Folk Art Museum is grouped into eight departments: 

1 Paper-Cuts

Wood engraved pictures and paper-cuts are an important traditional folk art and have been listed as national cultural heritage. Moreover, the paper-cut has been listed as an item of world cultural heritage. There are the rare remains of wood engraving pictures and paper cuts dotted around the country. The museum still remains the workshop of old artists and the folk scene during the Spring Festival.  

2 Sculptures
Ancient Chinese sculpture is different in style from traditional Chinese painting. Most scholars and members of the aristocracy preferred to paint while ordinary people turned to sculpture. From generation to generation, almost all sculptural masterpieces are from unknown folk carvers.
Since the invention of stoneware and pottery in primitive times, “carving” and “sculpting” have appeared. But there are differences between the two art forms. When “carving”, people choose hard materials to create the imaginary works by removing excess material. When “sculpting”, people use soft materials to complete the work by continually adding layers and decoration.
With a long history, diverse geography and many ethnic groups, there are a great variety of sculptural styles and tactics, and innumerable fine folk works in China. These art works in the hall of the Folk Art Museum pay attention to historical and cultural values as well as aesthetic requirements, so they are all rare art treasures.
The works in the hall have two stylistic categories: one shows the evolving styles of different ages and the other shows all aspects of the application of sculptures among the people.  

 

3 Folk Painters
In the beginning, painting was the spontaneous and free expression of people. Later, it gradually evolved specialized skills and achieved professionalization. These occupational workers are called painters or masters, who mainly served royal and religious requirements. After the Tang Dynasty, excellent painters began to act as court painters, thus becoming known by other people. But still a large number of folk painters remained in the fields, with no one discovering their work. Therefore, many exquisite works have been lost due to a lack of effective protection.
In the hall, some folk exhibitions are masterpieces or the only existing works, such as Water and Land God Picture, ancestors’ pictures, folk paintings, Yao Pan Wang Picture and so on. Among them, “Liao Dynasty Tomb Portrait” and “Qing Dynasty Gaozong (Qianlong) Birth Picture” are the greatest treasures in the hall. 

 

4 Figure Life
The love for beautiful things among people is vividly reflected in their lives. China has a vast array of ethnic groups, different customs, natural materials and goods in different regions, which has lent the country extremely rich artistic forms. In the hall, from furniture, faith offerings, and all kinds of utensils to clothing, accessories, holiday items, toys and decorations, the the aesthetic beauty of folk life is fully displayed. 

 

5 Blue Calico
Traditional Chinese women’s clothing is mainly produced using dyeing and embroidery. In the south of China, women commonly use blue cotton print, which has a long history and comes in many diverse styles, including board painting, batik, tie-dye and blue print. Blue calico is very popular in Jiangsu Province.
The hall exhibits blue calico and its production process. Jiangsu Province is near the Yellow Sea, where its moist climate and soft soil make it suitable for the growth of cotton. When China was a largely agricultural civilization, every household would spin, weave, carve and dye flower pattern with blue grass by themselves. Chinese women have worn blue calico for at least a thousand years and people have created more than ten thousand beautiful patterns. Today, due to the impact of industrialization, blue calico is gradually disappearing. Therefore, in order to preserve this unique example of traditional craftsmanship, blue calico has been listed as part of the nation’s intangible cultural heritage. 

 

6 Movable Type
One of China’s greatest inventions was printing with many single carved wooden blocks. During the Qingli Years of the Song Dynasty (1041—1048), Bi Sheng tried carving Chinese characters on clay blocks, firing them dry, typesetting and printing, and finally succeeded. About four hundred years later, the German Johannes Gutenberg invented metal movable type, which greatly promoted the spread of culture and the improvement of civilization. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271—1368), wooden movable type was created.
In the hall, these wooden movable type blocks on display are from the Ruian region, the southern part of Zhejiang Province. These villagers record their genealogy every one or two decades and the custom has continued up to the present day. Therefore, an important aspect of cultural heritage - ancient movable type - has been vividly preserved. Here, people can directly encounter the source of thousands of years of printing history and feel the beginnings of modern civilization. 

 

7 Flowers Hall
This hall exhibits the essence of contemporary folk art, from which we can appreciate many masterpieces by the successors of traditional folk art. A new generation of golf artists are also represented here, showing the flushing contemporary folk art scene in China. 

8 Collection Library
The Collection Library is an extension and also a part of the “Jumping over the dragon gate” Folk Art Museum, which collects wood engraved pictures, paper cuts and other precious collections. Among them, the wood engraved pictures and related collections are especially abundant, including about one thousand precious ancient wood engraved pictures, engraving and printing tools from different places as well as the related written records.