Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chinese Folk Arts

GONG XI FA CAI! to all my Chinese friends who are celebrating the year of the Tiger.

This Chinese New Year the shopping malls are abuzz with all things Chinese, all very colourful and rich in culture. There is no mistaking, RED is the colour. It spells PROSPERITY and GOOD LUCK and we can never have enough of them.

Amidst all the feverish shopping for goodies, gifts and paraphernalia to usher in the new year, I took time to browse the Chinese folk arts stalls which are making a huge presence in some of the big malls.

Though the setting is modern, the artisans at the Chinese folk arts stalls hark back to ancient China. Everyone of them is so steeped in history. I guess going traditional serves a gentle reminder of the importance of retaining the arts and tradition in our cyber world. I couldn't help marvelling at the artistic dexterity of the different craftsmen. Do join me for a sampling of some of the popular folk arts.

It was the Chinese who invented paper. Here, pause and marvel at the intricate paper cuttings , a unique art form, created in the Tang Dynasty.

Red is a very popular colour. Chinese zodiac animals is one of the favourite motif. Scissors/knives are used to create this delicate artwork. These cuttings decorate windows, mirrors, walls, doors etc. to bring good luck.

Colourful cloth tigers, a popular folk handicraft, with the Mandarin character 'Wang' - meaning 'king' - on their foreheads. The cloth tiger is deemed to be a symbol of peace and luck. It is also highly regarded as the 'protector of fortunes'.

Chinese dough figurines is a popular folk art in urban and rural China. The artisan moulds figures and animals from wheat flour, glutinous rice flour, glycerin, bee honey with the help of tools like toothpicks, sharp pointed metal objects. The dough figurine master is seen here sculpting a face. Within minutes, a figurine is all yours if you care to own one.

Some dough figurines

The Chinese have flown kites for at least 2,500 years. They were probably the first people to make kites. Kite -flying was/is an activity for the young and old. Popular designs are flowers, birds, animals which are framed by the bamboos and then pasted with paper or silk.

The dragon kite is a winner.

Any subject on the whole gamut of traditional Chinese painting inside a snuff bottle! Amazingly intricate with great attention to details.

A tiny brush ( angled) to do the painstaking painting within a limited space.

A tiger very much 'alive' inside a glass globe!

Chinese knotting, a decorative handicraft began in the Tang and Sung Dynasty ( 960 -1279 AD). The knots are hand -tied and evolved from the knots used in daily life through thousands of years.

Each knot has a different meaning.

Good luck strokes in Chinese Stroke of Luck calligraphy. Cheerfully adorned by animals etc - all in rainbow colours.


  1. Gong Xi Fa Cai to you and your family too. I love visiting these china fairs, their crafts are so sophiscated.

  2. Very artistic and festive decoration! Lovely colors. I hope you had a wonderful holiday.

    TY for encouraging my daughter. It means a lot to me. Your comment made her very happy :)

    Hugs and blessings. Have a wonderful week.

  3. Thanks for your CNY wishes. The kites are real cool, dragon kite is awesome. GongXiFaCai.

  4. Dear Keats,

    Gong Xi Fa Chai!

    I was there on Tues! I took my parents to the Pavillion. They loved it! It reminded them of the temple fairs in China. I preferred the Fortune Cat themed decor in One Utama. The festive season is so much fun, is it not?

    My favourite festivals are Wesak Day, Deepavali and Vinayagar Chatthurti. What's yours, please?

  5. Wow! ... those colors - interesting post ... China is probably one of the only places on earth I'd really like to visit ... and red is my favorite color too ...

  6. Gong Xi Fa Cai to you and your family.
    So happy to see all red here, it is my favourite color too.

  7. Hi
    alicesg, thank you for updating your blog on the different days of the Chinese New Year and its significance too.

    Rosidah Abidin, We had a wonderful time in Taiping (my hometown)and Penang. How lovely to have a blogger mum supporting her daughter's blog. I look forward to amalia's entries and wish her all the best.

    CHeaH@Son, i would love to see a dragon kite flying. For sure it will be hugely awesome!

    ~Covert_operations'78~,I love the cultural performances too. The shopping malls are doing their best to showcase the 3 main different festivals - CNY, Hari Raya,and Deepavali. Have you noticed Malaysians being so comfortable in each other's ethnic clothes? My favourite festivals are Chinese New Year and Deepavali.

    OneStoned Crow, welcome to my blog! Do pop in again! Yes, China is a great place to visit - I haven't done it myself:(

    molly, so happy to have you visiting! more prosperity to you too!

  8. Reminds me of one red paper cutting done many years ago but did not frame up yet. Great post love the kites. tQ

  9. No one could find a more colorful blog. I think your name suits you. You are always such a happy person. and I like following your photo and your life, as you explain it.

  10. I'm sorry I'm so late on my coming to your site, and wish you a Happy New Year.

    This post is fantastic, colorful, great information, and your photos are gorgeous..I miss celebrating this event in the US!

  11. What patient you need to paint, cut and mould!
    I have several Chinese galligraphies I bought many yrs ago from China. How talented they are with those brushes! Amazing!
    It's great we have different customs around the globe. We're not totally lost our traditions which is good.
    Have a great day! See you! :)


  12. I wish there was one here. Great shots and loved reading the info.

  13. Hi
    Bananaz,wow! you did one paper cutting? It's intricate work.

    Lucy, thanks so much for being a regular and enjoying my posts.

    Icy BC, thanks for your good wishes. I'm glad you enjoy the festive mood portrayed in the photos. Festivals in Malaysia are colourful.We are lucky to be able to enjoy them all.

    Blogitse, Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, the last day is known as Chap Goh meh ( 15th night). So, till it ends, the people are in a upbeat mood. Families and friends take time to meet and bind ties as much as possible.

    Indrani, we love the celebrations here as it means sharing and understanding the other ethnic group's cultures too.

  14. Ni hao!
    wow, 15 days, I didn't know that!
    Two weeks very busy time to meet all the people.
    Xie xie!


  15. Never seen before
    I wish I could visit that once :-)
    So colorful !!!!
    Its always very interesting to see other cultures

    Have a wonderful weekend
    Kareltje =^.^=
    Anya :-)

  16. I am always amazed at the beautiful paper cuttings which seems so difficult to do. The patterns look so complicated but the outcome is beautiful. Love your pictures here.

  17. Keats please come to my main blog and pick up an award I have for you. I love your blog.

  18. Thanks for a look at these beautiful crafts...and a very intriguing world.


  19. Keong Hee Huat Chye!!!! <--- Hokkien version!
    :) Love your writings!

  20. The art is so colourful and intricate. I went to the malls too but I guess sometimes I still need beauty to be pointed to me.

    Keats, did I wish you Happy New Year? I must have or did I not. Happy New Year Keats, may the Tiger year be wild and yet gentle for all of us.

  21. Hi
    Blogitse, Ni Hao! yes, the celebrations continue and today is the 8th day of the Chinese New Year. On the 15th day,it will end with much gusto as it signals the end of Chinese New Year.

    Anya, all the festivals in Malaysia are colourful - we're very lucky!

    Autumn Belle, thanks! hope you're keeping well.

    Lucy, Thanks so much for your award. I appreciate your support.

    A Thousand Clapping Hands, thank you for visiting. The craftsmen deserve praise for their talents and dedication.

    lupie, Hey!I'm Hokkien. How did you guess? definitely I recognise the greetings!!Thanks so much for reading my posts. I try to keep them to a certain length to keep the interest as visiting blogs takes time.

    Ocean Girl, I know what you mean. A little info never fails to make things more meaningful:) Our malls make the shopping experience more enjoyable when they promote the cultures.
    Yes, you did send your lovely greetings. Thanks ever so much. We will catch up soon.

  22. It's a little late, but Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family, Keats!

    I didn't go out much to shopping malls during this festive season, so couldn't get infected by the joyous spirits.

    Thus seeing the pics on your blog make me smile. I like the glass orb with tiger. Nice!

  23. That's Pavilion right? I mentioned you on my blog as I was quite sure you were there...looking at the pictures, seems like the same like mine.
    Anyway, have a great Tiger New Year, gong hei fatt choy, bu bu go sing, sen tei keng hong...hope you understand all sounds so funny in English :)
    Let's meet up! hugs/M

  24. Hi
    Shingo T,thanks for your good wishes. Never too late! Trust you're having a good time with the countdown to Chap Goh Meh. Good to know you're still blogging - don't worry about the comments. Bloggers know doing posts CAN be an occupation by itself!!!

    M. Kate, I've just visited your blog and your pictures are fantastic! Yes, I was at the Pavilion. The top pic was taken at Sunway Pyramid. Thanks for your loads of good wishes - say it again when we meet!

  25. Hi Keats! Don't know how I missed this one! Lovely!!

    Meanwhile, Blogtrotter 2 is in Haiti. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!!

  26. Hi Trotter, thanks! on 28th, Feb, it will be the last day of celebration for the Chinese New Year. You can bet everyone will try to celebrate! Then we wait for the year of the rabbit.

  27. A wonderful post - I so enjoyed it! Many thanks.


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