Xinji Wall Hangings A Falk Art

Xinji City, about 300 kilometers south of Beijing, is well known for many folk handcrafts including paintings, embroidery, glued-cloth pictures, toys and tiger shoes. Wall hanging is a new product combining the techniques of painting with embroidery and glued-cloth pictures.

Materials required for the making of wall hanging are simply cheap cotton, wool, cloth and thread. The works, full of imagination and creativity, convey the folk artists’ understanding of life and represent their love for the nature and life. The themes mainly include rural life, traditional opera, folk festivals, folk tales and mascots. Here are three examples.

The Shepherd reveals the rural life and the local people’s love for nature. In the background of the picture are green grass and flowers. A shepherd and dozens of sheep stand harmoniously in the front. Sheep is one of six commonly fed animals in China and are considered auspicious. In the hanging, the sheep are beautifully decorated to reveal people’s love for the stock and also for the nature.

Auspiciousness and Good Luck displays people’s pursuit of a happy life. The mandarin ducks and the lotus symbolize a sweet and harmonious family life. The rabbit shows abundance, and the magpie and the plums symbolize good luck.

Zhaozhou Bridge tells a folk story of Zhaozhou Bridge in Zhao County, Hebei Province. The 1400-year-old bridge is shaped like a rainbow. For its unique design and long history, the bridge possesses an important position in world bridge history. Many folk stories are told in China about this bridge and the picture depicted in the wall hanging is one of them. It is said that the great carpenter Lu Ban built Zhaozhou Bridge with his superior skills. It caused such a sensation that the gods were surprised and descended to the earth to test it. Zhang Guolao rode a donkey back and forth on the bridge, with the sun and the moon in a bag. The Firewood God’s Cart, loaded with five mountains, rolled across the bridge. Two celestials weighed down the bridge. Under all the weight, the bridge remained undamaged thanks to Lu Ban’s unparalleled skills.

The Xinji people are no longer satisfied with these themes. In some new wall hangings, their longing for a bright future can be felt.