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Magical Wheat Straw Painting Makes Life Alive and Joyful
BY 2019-11-20 09:00:29

(DALIANNEWS)- Fluffy thrush bird, simple and charming lucky pig, galloping horses, lotus in bud, magnificent pavilions... Cui Guijun, the inheritor of the wheat straw painting which is an intangible cultural heritage project of Dalian, once swept the street, now put down the broom to pick up the straw again, and turn the "grass" into gold, giving new life and meaning to the wheat straw that would be discarded or burned. The “boundless world" appeared vividly in her wheat straw paintings. 

Wheat straw painting has a history of more than 1,400 years. It integrates traditional Chinese painting, paper cutting, stick painting and other techniques. The production process has gone through more than 20 processes such as boiling, scraping, tearing, hot dyeing, cutting, carving and painting.

 The wheat straw paintings are mainly from the folk life. In the old days, during the slack season of farming, the ancients used wheat straw to weave some small objects for decoration or earning a living. Therefore, Cui Guijun learned this skill from her parents when she was young.

More than 20 years ago, Cui Guijun, originally the section chief of a state-owned enterprise followed her husband to Dalian. She did not have the heart to place the burden on her husband completely, and sufferred from the little child who need a person to take care of again, Cui had to put down all her idea that concerned with art, and did odd jobs. "I swept the streets, tied kelp buckles, picked up beans and did everything to earn money for my baby." Cui uses the word "embarrassed" to describe the life at that time, because the gap of the job gave her a huge blow.

Later, Cui Guijun picked up her wheat straw painting again by chance. This familiar sense of steadiness made her determined to change from an artisan to a wheat straw painting keeper. Since then, Cui has been on the road of inheriting wheat straw paintings for 20 years.

Cui Guijun's wheat straw paintings always shine people's eyes. The flowers, birds, fishes, insects, pavilions and other boundless world in Cui Guijun's hands are always lifelike. Cui also incorporated new ideas and concepts into the older generation's crafts, making the 1,400-year-old wheat straw paintings very popular today.

 "It is popular to forward koi carps to pray for good luck on the internet recently. I also made a wheat staw painting named ‘good fortune from koi carps’. We will also  make a ‘lucky pig’ in the year of pig.”, Cui Guijun flips through the artworks in her mobile phone patiently and introduces the creative inspiration of a few works to the reporter.

The work “Han Gong Chun Xiao” is always regarded as a treasure by Cui, which is still on display at Dalian museum. The work is 2.5 meters in length and 60 centimeters in height. It was awarded the gold medal in the first China (Dalian) international cultural industry expo.

The work of “Han Gong Chun Xiao” was exquisitely made and lifelike. There are three different trees beside the pavilion. Each tree has thousands of leaves, and the shapes and sizes of the leaves are all different. "I carved the little tile pavilion on the ancient building with sticks, and then glued it with wheat straw layer by layer. If there is a difference in the length of the sticks or the sticking is not even, the millimeter deviation of this link will lead to the tilt of the whole work, or even the lack of method to make the basic appearance of the pavilion. ”, said Cui. Making a pavilion in the wheat straw painting is the most difficult part, and this work takes six months because of the details.

Cui do not forget the mission of inheriting this art and adhere to teaching it for 14 years. "To make a picture of wheat straw, it needs patient and good skill." Many young people can't bear to do this demanding job. Cui trudged for 20 years on the inheritance of wheat straw paintings. Among the young people, only her daughter inherits the art of wheat straw painting.

To Cui's surprise, her wheat straw paintings are popular with the elderly. Therefore, she started a wheat straw painting class for 14 years in the old cadre university of Dalian, and more than 40 students joined her every semester. "I have a group of students who are older than me." Cui told reporters that the oldest student had become over 80 years old this year.

In order to carry forward the wheat straw painting, Cui Guijun has taught students  in local schools in recent years. “The intangible cultural heritage in China should be passed on starting from children. Now almost all the pupils which I have taught can complete a work independently." , said Cui who felt very pleased when talking about that she could teach more than 1,000 students every year.

(Editor:Grace) (From:DALIANNEWS)
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