Chinese Folk Art: The Small Skills of Carving Insects

Nancy Zeng Berliner, Author Little Brown and Company $50 (254p) ISBN 978-0-8212-1615-6
Much more down-to-earth than the silks and porcelain of China's royal courts, Chinese folk art embodies a living tradition that has received scant attention in the West. Berliner, who studied art at a Chinese academy, and her husband, Zeng Xiaojun, bicycled through rural villages to gather the papercuts, embroideries, shadow puppets, wood-block prints and dye-resist printed fabrics assembled in this volume. A belief in spirits and the use of symbols to bring luck, prosperity or longevity animate many of these pieces. Door gods were believed to frighten evil spirits away from a home's entrance. Golden paper money decorated with dragons was burned to propitiate gods. Artists show great sophistication in carved puppets flexible enough to turn somersaults and papercuts that won the praise of poets. This enjoyable survey unearths folk-art traditions that were eclipsed by the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s yet remain alive in China's villages. (April 7)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Genre: Nonfiction
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