|Traditional Chinese new year painting |
New year paintings, firecrackers, and paper cuts were the "absolute necessities" which accompanied generations of Chinese in the Spring Festival -- Chinese lunar new year.
Woodblock paintings have become the most favorite to collectors both for its art value and appreciation potential in recent years.
The Wuqiang county museum of new year paintings in north China's Hebei Province has collected 20-odd new year painting replicas, while the original works are now in the British Museum and some museums in the United States.
Traced back to nearly 2,000 years ago, in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), the Chinese liked to paste the picture of the door gods at the front door to dispel evil spirits in Spring Festivals, which was the origin of Chinese new year painting.
With the prevalence of modern printing technology in the 19th century, the traditional Chinese new year paintings have faded out of people's eyes.
However collectors have rediscovered the value of new year paintings in recent years.
According to Guo Shurong, vice curator of the Wuqiang county new year painting museum, foreign collectors, experts and scholars have shown increasing enthusiasm towards these paintings.
"More than 1,000 foreign experts and collectors come to Wuqiang annually just for new year paintings in our museum," said Guo, adding that Chinese collectors started to eye these paintings in recent years.
In 2004, the Guangzhou Guardian Auctions company auctioned off a new year woodblock painting of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) at the price of 70,000 yuan (about 8,750 U.S. dollars).
Combined with both wood carving and painting, the traditional Chinese new year paintings vividly reflect the culture and customs of folk Chinese.
Zhang Keqiang, a painting workshop manager, said that his shop sold nearly 6,000 pieces of new year paintings in 2006, more were collected by clients from Singapore and Japan.