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Beautiful Banhua
As China booms and its art market grows, these prints are attracting growing global interest from mu...
Art Stuff 26 Jan 2023

Happy ‘Lunar’ New Year! This year we usher in the year of the rabbit, a very strong symbol of peace.

To mark the celebration, people who celebrate are decorating their homes with banhua (年画). The direct translation of ‘banhua’ is ‘printed picture’ and a general term for original prints or printmaking as an art form. As printing first appeared in 3rd century China, artists started to use woodblock printing or other methods to spread their works to the masses. From the 17th century, prints celebrating the Lunar New Year pictures, also known as níanhùa, became popular.

These eye-catching prints are prominently displayed as Lunar New Year décor across Asia. Families customarily replace their New Year picture annually to symbolically say goodbye to the past while welcoming the future.

Banhua prints range from the religious to the secular, featuring the likes of door deities, famous Chinese opera scenes, healthy babies, popular narratives, depictions of the theatre, and traditional beauties. Níanhùa typically incorporates depictions of New Year observances.

As China booms and its art market grows, these prints are attracting growing global interest from museums and collectors.

Here is a selection of brightly coloured, fun banhua via @radii_media – a news and media outlet exploring modern Chinese culture by unpacking the freshest stories in entertainment, design, art, food, fashion, and tech.

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