Zhuxian Town New Year Wood-block Prints 朱仙镇木版年画

Time: 2006
Category: Folk Art
Region: Henan Province
Ref. No.: Ⅶ-7
Nominating unit[s]: Kaifeng city, Henan Province
Kaifeng City, Henan Province is located in the Eastern Henan Plain. According to the text "Reminiscences of the Eastern Capital", New Year wood-block prints have been found in Zhuxian Town, twenty kilometers south of Kaifeng, as early as the Northern Song Dynasty. Zhuxian Town New Year wood-block prints flourished in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, when there were over three hundred workshops. But in the late Qing Dynasty and early Republic of China era, the New Year wood-block prints industry began to decline in Zhuxian Town. At that point, most of the workshops moved back to Kaifeng, turning it into a new production and sales center for Zhuxian Town New Year wood-block prints, wher famous painting workshops such as "Tiancheng", "Yunji" and "Huichuan" began to rise. Since 1949, organizations such as Community of New Year Wood-block Prints of Kaifeng, Community of Zhuxian Town New Year Wood-block Prints of Henan and so on have been established in Kaifeng City, which has been committed to the excavation and sorting of the traditional craft of the New Year wood-block prints.
Zhuxian Town New Year wood-block prints are very particular about the colors used. Raw materials such as minerals and plants are manually ground into special pigments with a very pure color. Pictures printed with such pigment are bright and colorfast, featuring full and symmetrical composition, concise and rugged lines, simple and exaggerated shapes, and a unique art style. Themes of New Year wood-block prints are often inspired by a wide range of vivid figures in popular folk tales, myths, legends and dramas.
Kaifeng has excavated and sorted out over two hundred and twenty old woodblocks, reprinted over three hundred old paintings, published the "Selection of New Year wood-block prints of Zhuxian Town in Kaifeng", "Collection of Precious Zhuxian Town New Year wood-block prints" and "Collection of Stories in Zhuxian Town New Year wood-block prints", and has done a lot of extra work to protect the traditional New Year wood-block prints. However, at present most of the old artists are at a senior age, and their skills are in danger of extinction, with the traditional pigment grinding method using minerals and plants known to few people. Without timely protection, Zhuxian Town New Year wood-block prints are likely to become extinct.

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