Art Kaleidoscope

Between art and craft

Chinese straw art

Chinese straw art. Straw portrait of Colonel Gaddafi, Libyan revolutionary and politician

Colonel Gaddafi, Libyan revolutionary and politician. Chinese straw art

Traditionally, the straw art has been popular in East Asia, where the inhabitants cultivated a variety of cereals. And the attitude to rice grain was similar to European’s to wheat. In fact, the attitude was due to the belief in the divine power of grains and, in particular, straw. According to supported in China, Korea and Japan belief, straw symbolizes purity, glory, the sun’s energy, knowledge, abundance, happiness and fertility. Besides, in the myths rice is a gift of the gods.
Also, in China, the rice grains have been a symbol of protection from evil spirits. Noteworthy, in Bali there is the cult of the Mother of Rice – a figure of which were long (masculine) and short (feminine) sheaves of rice straw. It is an expression of faith of the peoples of Southeast Asia that stalks of rice, like humans, contain vital energy.

Straw painting by Chinese craftsmen

Herons. Straw painting by Chinese craftsmen

Traditionally, straw plaiting craft is popular in the south and in the north of China for the manufacture of everyday objects and household items. In particular, baskets, fruit dishes, screens, doors sheds, vases, straw napkin, hats, mattresses, blankets, and carpets. As well as various furniture, for which used bam beech, rattan, alpine willow, and grass stems.

Meanwhile, diverse in appearance and patterns, all of these items are not only necessary to the farm, but also represent a considerable artistic value. Craftsmen make wicker products from the stems of wheat in Shandong, Hebei and Henan provinces. While from the “gray” wan grass – in Gaoyang and Dunvane (Guangdong ), from yellow and “golden” – in Jiaxiu (Zhejiang Province), and from the Chinese alpine willow – in Hunan. Bamboo mainly produced in Dunyane and Shengxian (province Chzhets zyan) in Tsyuanchzhou and Gutyane (Fujian), Jiading (Shanghai), and Zigong (Sichuan province). And the best products of palm fiber produced in Sinfane (Sichuan Province); Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi and Yunnan.

All materials used by artisans, mined in the woods, or are waste products, but because due to its low cost – widely used in a variety of crafts. Fan decorated with images of flowers, birds, landscapes, and consist of the number of bamboo strips (they can be up to a thousand), and the very basis of this – painted with an intricate drawing.

Traditionally, Chengdu (Sichuan province) is famous for products that combine two dissimilar materials – porcelain and bamboo. And Zhejiang craftsmen make other samples of bamboo weaving: vases, boxes, figures of animals and people. In recent years, the art of weaving developed in Guangxi and Heilongjiang.

Chinese craftsmen execute paintings made of various materials – grass stems, bark, cork, feathers, horns, and rice cuttings. Widely known are bright bamboo curtains, lacquer and porcelain paintings, prints, splint, silk flowers, velvet, and paper garlands.

Noteworthy, in recent years, new directions of art are developing, such as paintings of straw, shells, cuttlefish panel, wood chips, cotton yarns, and wool. Wheat stalks, bark, shells and fish bones – all materials that are easily mined locally. And in the hands of talented artists this natural “junk” miraculously turns into a landscape, human figures, birds, animals, flowers, fish, etc.

Chinese straw art