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Weifang New Year Pictures

Besides Yangliuqing in Tianjin and Taohuawu in Suzhou, Weifang in the middle of Shandong Peninsula is a city known for its New Year woodcuts.

The woodcuts are all printed by hand. The sketch is first drawn by an artist. Then the printing board is carved according to the sketch. For the coloured woodcuts, an individual board is carved for each colour. When printing, several boards are fixed on a table so that one colour is applied on the paper each time. After printing, the boards are kept for future use.

Weifang New Year pictures are rich in variety. The most common kind is the horizontal or vertical ones put up on doors and walls, the long pictures above or on each side of the window, and the ones pasted around a table or a kang, a heated brick bed. The content of the pictures ranges from historical stories and legends to birds, flowers, fish, insects and symbols expressing good luck.

An even older way of making New Year pictures is still popular in the neighboring Gaomi County. Instead of using printing boards, folk artists use a charcoal willow twig to draw on a piece of paper before patting the charcoal ashes onto the picture, drawing the lines, applying ink and colour. This kind of pictures is known as ash-patting New Year pictures. With smooth lines, bold ink splashes and colour application and their free style of Chinese landscape painting, these drawings are treasured by professional artists. Unlike woodcutting that can be printed in large quantities, ash-patting can only produce five or six copies with each sketch.

Gaomi County is also known for its clay toys and papercuts.

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