For many centuries the Chinese people have decorated their homes during the Chinese New Year (CNY) with brightly-coloured pictures printed on paper by woodblock painting. In more recent times, the prints received the name of nianhua (年畫 ) or New Year pictures. The emergence of ninahua as an art form was due largely from technical advances.
The origin of nianhua can be traced back to the 5th century when printed icons similar to nianhua were first produced in Buddhist and Taoist monasteries. Woodblock printing of nianhua created in 18th to 19th century can be found in museums. Icons of Ménshén (門神), Gate Gods; Zhōng kuí (鍾馗), Demon chaser; Zào jūn (灶君) , Kitchen God; Tǔdì God (土地公公); Guānyīn (觀音), Bodhisattva; and Guānyǔ or Guāngōng (關羽 or 關公), a respected general, are popular in that period.
Chinese folklore like the Zào jūn (灶君) who takes a record of the good deeds as well as wrong deeds of each member of the families, promotes in the minds of people the judgement of right and wrong. This is essential for the harmony of society.
Guānyīn (觀音), Bodhisattva is a figure of mercy. We should always be merciful towards others.
Patrick would like to thank the authors for their hard work in collating the prints.
Bibliography and further readings :
Maria Rudova, Lev Menshikov, Viacheslav Sobolev, Yurin Kirilin (1988) Chinese Popular Prints, Aurora Publishers, Leningrad