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China's Peasants Painting (1)

18 January 2011

Once upon a time a sign of mass democracy looming large on a horizon of China, not only in politics, in works, but in cultural practice as well.

Prior to the forced dismantling of the commune system which witnesses the peasants going back to their old way of family farming - in which some people do farming but with no farmland and some people own farmland but do no farming - cultural activities among peasants were encouraged and thus thrived in all areas, including drawings and paintings.

What displayed here are the images of some paintings created by totally untrained peasants in Jiangsu Province, traditionally the most affluent and developed region in China.

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A Rice Production Team

Rice is the staple food for Chinese in southern regions. For thousands of years, Chinese were known as the masters in producing nutritious and delicious organic rice of all kinds which has enabled China to grow to the most populous nation in the world.

The painting depicts a production team working on three stages of removing husks from the rice grains: grains are first placed in a circular mill that is grinded by a man in the left, then passed to a hand-operated device for a man standing on the top right to separate the rice from husks, finally a woman in the bottom right let the rice pass through a circular sieve to be piled on the ground.

While the commune system has now been trashed like husks, the rice plantation in China is taking a great leap downward ... into the abyss where U.S. multinational-controlled GM seeds have been packaged and sold to Chinese as local invention, but in fact are the measures to implement Washington's zero-child policy in China, as it is so firmly believed by many Chinese.

This painting is produced by a middle-aged peasant woman named Zhang Yuanying.

Bride of a Chinese Peasant

A female member of a village production team met her guy from the same production team or from a different production team in a village nearby or far away and married him and became a permanent member of his extended family. Still in her wedding appearance of a cherry headdress and a pink jacket and red trousers and scarlet shoes, she sits in front of a large loom to demonstrate her cloth weaving skills.

Until a couple of decades ago, some Chinese peasants were still wearing clothes made of textiles produced at home, often in checked or striped patterns with colours ranging from red, pink, orange, green, blue, brown to black.

The artist, a peasant woman named Yao Zhenzhu in Jiangsu Province, illustrates village life in vivid details: The mother-in-law is scattering grains to feed the chickens who enjoy a total freedom of running around, while a little human in the background has been confined to a basket for its own safety. But the joy of the freedom activists could be short lived - when Chinese New Year arrives the chickens might all be made into dishes, while the kid, on the other hand, will grow up and come out of the confinement and become the master of the household.

The lesson: Earn your own place in your world through hard work and positive contribution, since freedom under the mercy of alien masters is a fable and forever ends tragically.

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