Sharing the Beauty of China: Chinese Folk Arts

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The creators of Chinese folk art come from the working class masses of China’s rural areas. They are mostly female laborers. A communal art, folk art would engender all of Chinese literature and all later art. Its presence is evident in everyday food, clothing, shelter and transportation; in traditional festivals, ceremonies and rituals, and in beliefs and taboos. As a living example of cultural heritage, it shows the continuity of Chinese culture from primitive society to present, a culture that bears distinct national and geographical characteristics. With this heritage, Chinese culture boasts the longest history and the richest historical sources, and of all cultures, considers itself the most widely shared and the most geographically distinct. Its cultural implication and art form accumulate a historical culture of 7,000-8,000 years dating back to primitive society. 

About Author

Jin Zhilin, born in 1928 and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1951. He has been long engaged in the researching and teaching of Chinese folk art and oil painting. At present, he is a professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and is a consultant of the Academy Committee of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He is the member of the National Folk Culture Protection Project Expert Committee of the Ministry of Culture. His main works include: The Cultural Series on Chinese Folk Arts and Archeology, Baby with Coiled Hair – the God of Protection and Multiplication of the Chinese Nationality, The Tree of Life, Qin Zhidao, Generation after Generation, and etc.

Table of Contents
Six Characteristics of Chinese Folk Art
The Core of Chinese Folk Art
Life and Propagation—an All-time Theme
Symbols of Visual Objects
Social Context of Chinese Folk Art
The Social Context of Folk Arts
Folk Arts and Festivities
Folk Arts in Daily Life
Folk Arts in Beliefs and Taboos
The Structure of Chinese Folk Art
Philosophy Concept
The Shaping Structure
The Structure of Colors
Creators of Chinese Folk Art
The Art of the Laborer Community
The Art of Folk Artist Community
Various Chinese Folk Art Works
Leather Silhouette
Woodcut New Year Picture
Masks and the Culture of Exorcism
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Sample pages of Sharing the Beauty of China: Chinese Folk Arts (ISBN:9787508540207) Sample pages of Sharing the Beauty of China: Chinese Folk Arts (ISBN:9787508540207) Sample pages of Sharing the Beauty of China: Chinese Folk Arts (ISBN:9787508540207)

In the early 1970s, I left the College of Fine Arts where I had been a teacher for many years and went to live in Yan’an, Shaanxi, on the Loess Plateau on the middle-upper reaches of the Yellow River. This was the home base for my research on Chinese folk art. Rich with glorious historical culture, this place had kept its longstanding cultural tradition due to generations of self-enclosed culture and years of underdeveloped transportation. As a result, the native Chinese culture was by and well maintained. In my 13 years working in the Yan’an Mass Art Museum and the Commission of Antiques Management, I had the chance to conduct on-site research in folk art, fork custom and culture, and an overall study and exploration of archaeological culture. The first-hand study of folk culture and customs, as well as its intersection with archaeological culture and historical/legendary documents, helped me get in-depth in the study of Chinese cultural and philosophical origins. From there, I went on to the Yangtze River valley, the Liaohe River basin, and the Pearl River valley, then covered the entire country from Xinjiang to Shandong to Taiwan, from Heilongjiang to Hainan Island. Since the 1990s, I traveled further, to India, Pakistan, West Asia, Turkey, Egypt and Greece, Italy, and other parts of the European and American continent, continuing my research on folk culture and archaeological and historical cultures. Putting Chinese folk culture and its cultural and philosophical origin against the larger cultural background of all mankind, I shifted my study to mankind’s common cultural consciousness, and the original features of individual national cultures and philosophies. 
When I reached the villages on the Loess Plateau, I found Chinese folk arts in the forms of paper-cutting, embroidery and floury flower everywhere. Some were representations of animals, such as the turtle, the snake, the fish and the frog; and some were half-human, half animal : a human face on a turtle’s body, or on the body of a snake, frog or fish. There were also wholly humanized fairies. These art works embraced the development and transformation of totem culture through three phases from matriarchal society to patriarchal society. I felt as if I were in a world of totem culture, visiting the cultural center of a tribe of ancient times. The design of a pair of fish with human faces found on painted pottery and the “fish net” code from the 6,000- yearold Yangshao Culture unearthed in Banpo of Xi’an, Shaanxi, are still quite popular in the rural area here. The designs remain among the people as symbols of the god of life and propagation, a symbol of with supernatural power.
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Sharing the Beauty of China: Chinese Folk Arts