Wealth, Good Fortune and Longevity – Chinese New Year Prints

  • 17 February – 6 May 2018

    According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the New Year begins on 16 February 2018. To this day the event is celebrated in China with a large feast. Traditionally people cleansed their homes of all evil influences and sought the blessings of the gods. Colourful prints featuring tutelary deities and divinities of good fortune play an important part in these festivities.

    In the late 19th and early 20th century, the end of the year saw countless peddlers arriving in towns and villages all over China to sell brightly colored pictures of guardian deities and gods of good fortune. Printed on ordinary paper, these cheap reproductions were essentially religious supplies for the New Year’s festivities. Some were pinned up on doors to ward off evil spirits and left there for the remainder of the year, while others were set up on an altar and later ceremoniously burned. 

    The more than ninety prints, the majority of them collected around 1926, originated from different print shops in northern and southern China. They reflect the diversity of Chinese folk art, granting viewers a charming glimpse of the lives and beliefs among China’s general population.

    Up to this day, the veneration of tutelary deities and divinities of good fortune plays an important role in Chinese everyday culture. The German photographer Michael Wolf created a fascinating series of photographs showing small, humble shrines devoted to the earth god, which stand on nearly every street corner in Hong Kong. A selection of photographs bearing witness to this living tradition is also on show in the exhibition. 


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