New Year picture

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New Year picture of Qing Dynasty
New Year picture. Unknown. 1900.

A New Year Picture (Chinese: ) (Pinyin: Nían Hùa; literally "Year Picture") is a popular Banhua in China. It is a form of Chinese colored woodblock print, for decoration during the Chinese New Year Holiday, then later used to depict current events.


Its original form was a picture of a door god fashioned during the Tang dynasty. Later, more subjects, such as fairs, the Kitchen God, women and babies were included. Customarily, as each Chinese New Year arrives, every family replaces its New Year picture in order to "say goodbye to the Past and welcome the Future" (Chinese: ).

In the 19th century Nianhua were mass-produced and displayed for those who could not read. They often depicted the Chinese point of view of events.[1]

The scenes sometimes were used to create patriotic sentiment. Many Nianhua were produced during the Boxer Rebellion depicting the Muslim Kansu Brave forces of General Dong Fuxiang, showing them as victorious over the Eight Nation Alliance of the western powers and Japan.[2]

The most famous production places for New Year Pictures in China are Sichuan,[3] Tianjin,[4] Shandong,[5] and Suzhou.[6] Among the best four, Yangliuqing,[7] from Tianjin was regarded as the greatest. Yanliuqing’s paintings were first produced between 1573 and 1620.

The New Year Pictures in Sichuan were mostly come from Mianzhu. Mianzhu’s New Year Pictures are different from other places’. The particular rules require symmetry, completeness, equilibrium, clarity and a moral meaning. It originates from earlier Song Dynasty and booming in late Ming and early Qing Dynasty. In its prosperous time, there were more than 300 workshops in Mianzhu. In addition, the production were transported and sold not only in different parts of China, but also sold to India, Japan and other countries.[original research?]

As times changed, people, especially those in cities, were influenced by modern arts to see New Year Pictures as traditional and staid. Moreover, people considered the door god was too menacing to hang in their homes. They wanted something more artistic. At the middle of the 1980s, the sales amount of New Year Pictures in Mianzhu was around five hundred thousand. However, the number dropped sharply since the early 1990s.[original research?]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wood, Frances. "The Boxer Rebellion, 1900: A Selection of Books, Prints and Photographs". British Library. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  2. ^ Jane E. Elliott (2002). Some did it for civilisation, some did it for their country: a revised view of the boxer war. Chinese University Press. p. 204. ISBN 962-996-066-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  3. ^ "中国年画". Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  4. ^ "中国年画". Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  5. ^ "中国年画". Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  6. ^ "中国年画". Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  7. ^ "Chinese New Year Graphics". Retrieved 2013-04-11.