Lunar New Year is the most celebrated traditional festival in Taiwan, and with it being such a culturally important festival, there are several traditions that people maintain and follow. One of the most common traditions is affixing spring couplets on the walls or decorating homes with traditional Lunar New Year prints.
Lunar New Year print, also known as woodblock print or nianhua (年畫), is a type of traditional folk art that people use as festive decorations. In an interview with Central News Agency (CNA), artist Chu Chin-cheng (朱錦城) shares the technique of making woodblock prints, and explains the reason why the traditional folk art is on the wane and his passion in keeping this traditional folk art alive.
Chu explains that it is time and labor consuming to make woodblock prints as it requires precision in drawing, tracing, carving, and printing. To achieve the multi colored effect, the artist has to use separate woodblocks for different colors.
Over the years, as mechanical printing has become more and more viable as a mainstream manufacturing method, this centuries-old handicraft is losing its popularity, according to Chu.
However, he is determined to uphold the tradition and continue to create distinctive and diversified craft works. In order to do so, Chu has integrated Taiwan's local elements into his works, and has even made functional merchandise, such as cups and pillows, with custom nianhua prints.
This year, to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Ox, Chu has designed and created a special Lunar New Year print named "Prosperity and Fortune (福來運轉)." Through his efforts, he hopes that people will appreciate and understand more about traditional woodblock prints.