Au­then­tic He­nan prints come to Van­cou­ver

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By HATTY LIU in Van­cou­ver

More than 60 au­then­tic wood­block New Year prints from China’s He­nan Prov­ince are on dis­play at the Chi­nese Cul­tural Cen­tre (CCC) Mu­seum of Van­cou­ver, part of an an­nual cul­tural ex­change project with the He­nan Pro­vin­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Her­itage.

The ex­hi­bi­tion, called Cul­tural China – Charm­ing He­nan is the first time that the au­then­tic ar­ti­facts from China have been dis­played in Van­cou­ver since the ex­change agree­ment be­gan three years ago.

Ac­cord­ing to Toni Zhang, manager of the mu­seum, pre­vi­ous years’ ex­hi­bi­tions on Chi­nese char­ac­ters and the an­cient ar­chi­tec­ture of Dengfeng, He­nan, were popular, “but we could only put on prints of the orig­i­nal ob­jects”.

“We wanted more orig­i­nal ob­jects, so wood­block prints were cho­sen this year not only to co­in­cide with the Lu­nar New Year but be­cause they were easy to trans­port,” Zhang said.

The ex­hi­bi­tion runs from Feb. 28 to April 12, 2015.

Wood­block prints are a New Year folk tra­di­tion in He­nan prov­ince, an area in China’s Cen­tral Plains known as the “cra­dle of Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion”.

Images carved into wood are inked in a va­ri­ety of vivid colours, printed onto sheets of pa­per, and pasted onto doors and walls to bring bless­ings to the home. The He­nan wood­block tra­di­tion is the old­est va­ri­ety of wood­block print­ing in China and has its own dis­tinc­tive style, por­tray­ing peo­ple with large faces and smaller bod­ies for a car­toon­ish ef­fect.

“Many vis­i­tors are fas­ci­nated with the ex­hibit be­cause they only knew of hand-drawn New Year pic­tures, not printed ones that look hand-drawn, and didn’t know there were va­ri­eties to New Year pic­tures,” Zhang said.

Prints from the ex­hi­bi­tion fea­ture door gods and deities to pro­tect and bless the home, aus­pi­cious mo­tifs and sym­bols, and scenes from op­eras and folk tales, by far the big­gest cat­e­gory of prints.

The ex­hi­bi­tion will pro­vide cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion to around 3,000 stu­dents at the S.K. Lee Academy Chi­nese Lan­guage School at­tached to the CCC, who visit the mu­seum for free, and around 1,000 non-Chi­ne­ses­peak­ing pri­mary school vis­i­tors to the mu­seum each year.

“We try to take our stu­dents when­ever there are ex­hi­bi­tions with his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural value, since learn­ing cul­ture is in­sep­a­ra­ble from learn­ing a lan­guage,” said Daisy Chan, prin­ci­pal of the Chi­nese school.

On the first day school was in ses­sion af­ter the ex­hi­bi­tion opened, Chi­nese-Canadian stu­dents ex­plor­ing the gallery were im­pressed by a Lu­nar New Year tra­di­tion that was dif­fer­ent from their own.

“In my fam­ily we have tra­di­tions like food and red pock­ets, but not art­work. This is com­pletely new,” said Emily Cun, a Grade 12 stu­dent.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is or­ga­nized with col­lab­o­ra­tion from the Kaifeng City Mu­seum and Anyang Mu­seum of He­nan Prov­ince. The Chi­nese Cul­ture Cen­tre Mu­seum is lo­cated at 555 Columbia Street, Van­cou­ver Tick­ets are $3 for adults, $2 for stu­dents and free on Tues­days for se­niors.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

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