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China's Peasants Painting (2)

25 January 2011

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The Birth of a Baby

Following the birth of a baby, a new world is created, not by any God, but by the baby itself, with the help of all beings and non-beings related to it, especially its mother. If babies arrive in this world with a synopsis of the storyline developed in their previous lives, their mothers are the brave publishers who publish the books that are yet to be fully written.

Still in her pink jacket but a green headband (all Chinese mothers used to wear a cotton headband after giving birth to a baby as a measure to prevent from wind penetration through the naked head), the bride is now making a public presentation of the first book she published a month ago, with her mother-in-law acting as her PR manager.

The reason for her to postpone the book review is rather straightforward: according to Chinese custom, an open celebration of a brand new life should only take place a month later, so as to allow the baby to thrive and the mother to recover without disturbance.

On the one month anniversary (满月), a banquet is normally held and, in the old days, the title of the book would be formally assigned, often according to the suggestion of a yin-yang master who checked the Five Agents in the birth chart and came up with one or two characters that could address the imbalance between the agents.

During the celebration, While men toast in the front yard or front rooms, the women relatives and female villagers have a privilege to visit the publishing house - the bedroom - and give a close review of the new publication which, in this occasion, is in a yellow cotton package and held in the arms of the proud PR manager.

The important thing to bear in mind is, that no one should ever visit the new mother and her product empty-handed, which is considered to be extremely rude. So in the painting we see everyone bringing something with them, even the little girl in yellow pants carries a fish (somehow in a peculiar blue colour). The most notable gifts left by the visitors are a basketful of eggs dyed in red - which is a special blessing food for the occasion.

Then it is the nappies. Nappies in checked pattern of blue and white are everywhere: being washed by the sister-in-law, being laid out to dry on benches and on chicken coop ...

China's traditional reproduction culture based on highly advanced Chinese medicine theory and practice has for thousands of years ensured the Chinese nation to become the most populous people on Earth and Chinese civilisation to keep progressing from the ancient time to the present day. The painting produced by Cao Yinying, who herself was a peasant's wife and a mother, wonderfully illustrates the event taking place in the bedroom during One Month celebration.

Spring Clear Up

After one month break by resting in bed, the new mother is ready to return to work.

The very first task she takes is to clean the mess in her house. So our heroin walks into the sun and washes clothes in a round wooden pen and hangs them out on bamboo poles to dry.

She has arranged her laundry in an orderly fashion to make sure all receive maximum sun exposure without getting in each other's way. Perching at the top positions are a child's woolen cap and a pair of woman's shoes, while down the middle on branches two baby's animal figureheads find their cozy spots.

Along the poles, baby nappies in assorted patterns and colours are displayed like flags at the UN headquarters, and on a low bench a row of cotton shoes for different seasons are placed in pairs.

Spring is clearly in the air. It's a great window opportunity for tidying up the domestic mess.

This piece of water colour paining was created by Zhang Yuanying, also a peasant artist from Jiangsu.

Green Industries

Once placing the domestic system in order, it’s time for economic development and living standard improvement.

Our heroin, the new mother, now puts on uniform and sets up a multi-discipline business: a textile workshop and a childcare centre.

Her working environment is truly green (under a leafy tree) and her industry is even greener (zero energy consumption and carbon emission). She spins cotton yarn onto spools by hand and hangs the spools on a tree branch (smart utilizing infrastructure facilities provided by Mother Nature), and her baby is invited to view a tasseled paper fish (not an electronic toy fish), that is motioned by wind energy, from its comfortable seat in a wicker basket, which attracts birds to establish their own chickcare centre on the upper floor, and butterflies (Butterflies! There are still butterflies, Imagine! The tree must have not been genetically modified) dance to the tune of birds’ concert.

The peasant artist of this painting is Zhu Suzhen, from a village in Jiangsu Province.

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