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Traditional woodblock prints preserve a Chinese folk art that has now nearly vanished. This book explores and explains the artistic and aesthetic bases of popular prints revealed in eighty-four late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century prints belonging to the London-based Muban Foundation.
Woodblock printing was the principal method of producing inexpensive and colorful single-sheet images for mass consumption in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century China. Prints of this type are known today as "New Year pictures" because the demand for them peaked at New Year's time. However, the term "popular print" more accurately describes these works, whose subjects include deities and tutelary spirits, illustrations to stories and operas, and even contemporary political or revolutionary messages.
The emphasis on the artistic aspects of these prints makes this publication uniquely appealing to Chinese art historians but also to those interested in Chinese anthropology, popular religion, Chinese and other folk art, and traditional crafts.
Ellen J. Laing received a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She was Maude I. Kerns Distinguished Professor of Oriental Art, University of Oregon and is currently Research Associate at the Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan. She has published numerous scholarly articles, books, and reference works on Chinese art.