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Qiuse Arts of Foshan

Time:2008-10-08   Source:

Located in South China’s Guangdong Province, Foshan city is the famous hometown ofQiuse(autumn) arts, which refer to the activities held in celebration of the autumn harvest, also called "Qiusecontests" or a "QiuseTidengGathering".

Origin ofQiusearts in Foshan

Qiusearts in Foshan have a long history. It is said that one night during the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) after the autumn harvest, a group of children shaped the husk of a wild rice stem into a dragon, inserted a lit joss stick into its body and used a bamboo pole to wave the fire dragon around while roaming the streets and alleys and singing and beating their drums late into the night. This activity later developed into a fixed form of entertainment, which was gradually elaborated to becomeQiusearts, with an added local touch.

Known as one of the "four famous towns" in China since ancient times, Foshan is celebrated for its handicrafts and prosperous business; the town’sQiuseactivities held every autumn are the epitome of the city’s prosperous development.

Qiuseactivities are strict in form and content and fall into two categories -- performing arts and handicrafts. Performing arts include lantern demonstrations, playing with dragon lanterns, acting out drama stories, lion team processions, walking on high stilts, etc; the handicrafts include sculptures,zhen ke("needle carving"),nian tie("pasting"),pi xiao("paring"),zhi pu("paper sculpting"), and so on.

Qiusesculpting art

Qiusesculptures in Foshan mainly include clay sculptures, sculptures made of fragrant powder, and wax sculptures. Clay, fragrant powder and wax are the main materials used to make archaized bronzeware and ironware, stone sculptures,Qiusefruit, flowers, farm produce and sideline products, aquatic products, dishes, etc.Qiuseclay sculptures are refined on the surface to reflect the real products in terms of shape, structure, color and touch.

SinceQiuseartworks all feature lifelike characteristics, regular sculptures cannot be regarded as aQiuseart. Sculpting is only the first step in making aQiusehandicraft; the second step is to carefully mold the substance to reflect the real subject.

Qiusewax sculpting is mainly used to make glittering, flawless and translucent objects come to life. For instance, to imitate emerald and jade articles, it is necessary to dissolve the right amount of pigments into wax via cooking. Wax sculpting can also be used to make artificial foods look good enough to eat. Restaurants often apply this technique in advertisements to promote their dishes.

The soft wax can be molded into a variety of different shapes. FolkQiuseartists in Foshan use white wax, beeswax, olefin and other materials to produce variousQiusehandicrafts, adding much glamour and color to theQiuseevents.

Qiusezhen keart

Zhen ke("needle carving") is a unique genre of Qiusearts that features a simple and unsophisticated appearance and monotone color. The best example ofzhen kehandicrafts is thezhen koulantern. The lantern, which consists of a series of carefully executed needle holes that transmit light to form different patterns, is also called the "10,000-needle lamp".

Another good example ofQiusezhen ke art is theQiusemelon lantern. To make a melon lantern, a kind of small engraver is needed to carve out different patterns on the husk of a Chinese watermelon before it is hollowed out.

Making Qiusezhen keartworks:
1. To make a paperzhen koulantern, first decide on its structure and make a frame; then draw a lantern pattern on a thick sheet of paper. For aQiusemelon lantern, the patterns can be drawn directly drawn on the melon husk.

2. Use a needle to make holes in the pattern and then paste it on the lantern frame.

3. For aQiusemelon, carve the husk of a Chinese watermelon along the pre-drawn pattern. Then, hollow out the melon and place a lit lamp inside.

Traditional, colorfulQiuselanterns also include bamboo woven lanterns, palace lanterns, lanterns with revolving paper-cuts, paper-cut lanterns, etc. To make such lanterns, bamboo strips or iron threads are used to make the frame, then silk, gauze or colored paper is used to cover the framework; finally, paper-cuts or paintings and calligraphy are pasted onto the surface.

Qiusenian tieart

Qiusenian tiehandicrafts come in a great variety, including palace lanterns, silk gauze umbrellas, artificial flowers, potted rockworks, etc. This handicraft requires sophisticated skills and boasts a scientifically orderly and structural beauty. It incorporates such materials as melon seeds, sesame, rice, rush, grass, rice stalks, paring, beans, fish scales, etc.

When makingQiusenian tieartworks, artists make use of the shapes of their materials to configure various patterns. For instance, Chinese watermelon seeds, red melons, sunflowers and muskmelons are egg-shaped, resembling wild chrysanthemum petals. Pasted on a wild chrysanthemum pattern, they can help create a very beautiful flower image. Also, flowers made from black-and-white sunflower seed shells can produce more vivid patterns using natural hues.

Qiuseartists also take into account the flexibility of raw materials. For instance, since rush is thin and long and flexible, it is often applied to artworks that feature patterns of creeping weeds.

Qiusezhi puart Zhi pu ("paper sculpting") is another unique genre ofQiusearts in Foshan.Zhi puhandicrafts actually include paper, cloth and lacquer sculptures. Over the past several hundred years, after many reforms and innovations, the techniques of making zhi pu handicrafts were gradually improved. Some famous items include archaized porcelain, bronze and iron ware, as well as human figures, animals, wooden and stone sculptures, redwood articles and metal art ware. It is very difficult to distinguishzhi puartworks atQiusecontests from real objects.

To create azhi puartwork, the first step is to make a clay or gesso mold and then dry it in the sun. Next, the first layer of paper is pasted to the mold, which requires much patience. During this process, the paper is torn into many small triangles, dipped into clean water to moisten, and then evenly pasted one after another to the mold. Then, the second, third and fourth layers of paper are pasted on top to obtain the desired thickness.

The third step involves carefully carving the desired patterns onto the paper cast and peeling unwanted parts off the mold. Lastly, the mold is painted. Much care is required in the pigmentation process to make the artwork as lifelike as possible.