Authentic Henan prints come to 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.
Online advertising will be subject to more scrutiny in China, after a top regulator said the government would be coming out with more rules. > p 18