The World of Chinese
Born in 1990, Zhao Xiaoli is a trend artist based in Xiamen who has attracted widespread attention on social media platforms both in China and internationally. Using short video as an innovative way to communicate the creative process to a mass audience, she is the first female art influencer in the world to reach over 10 million followers. Her work mostly explores the emotions and confusions of growing up as a woman, and seeks a unique form of self-expression through the fusion of oil painting and moving images.
Ithink every post-80s kid [in China] grew up with Grimms’ Fairy Tales,” Chen Qingqing, a 36-year-old graphic designer and mother of two from Tianjin, tells TWOC. This is a strange contradiction:
China has perhaps the richest trove of historical legends, mythological stories, and tales of the strange and fantastical of any culture, yet it is collections of 19th century German fairy tales that top best-seller lists on major Chinese e-commerce platforms. The most popular translation of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, by German Studies scholar Yang Wuneng in 1992, has been reprinted at least 20 times and sold millions of copies, according to a 2013 paper in the translation journal Babel.
The relative failure of Chinese fairy tales to gain widespread popularity is not due to lack of content: From 1984 to 2009, the Ministry of Culture an eminently readable collection of 42 fairy tales, most of them translated into English for the first time.
These stories, selected and translated by Juwen Zhang, a folklorist and professor of Chinese Studies at Willamette University, are a rare resurrection of what Zhang called in a 2020 paper the “Brothers Grimm of China.” Lin Lan (林兰) was not a real person, with no backstory to speak of, but is identified as female as some stories attributed to her were signed “Lady Lin Lan.” It was the fictional