Artwork Panel: 43.4cm x 66.4cm ≈ 17" x 26"
Silk/Brocade: 52.2cm x 121.6cm ≈ 20½" x 47¾"
Width at Wooden Knobs: 61.2cm ≈ 24"Information about caring for your wall scroll
Close up view of the artwork mounted to this silk brocade wall scroll
This is Yuchi Gong (also known as Yuchi Jingde). He is a famous door god (or door guard) and army general of ancient China. He is known for his dark skin and the knuckled steal batons that he carries.
Yuchi Gong is almost always paired with general Qin Qiong. As you enter the main door, a portrait of Yuchi Gong should be hung on the left side. A portrait of Qin Qiong should be on the right.
During the Tang dynasty the emperor ordered these two men to guard his door because of a ghost harassing him as he tried to sleep. With Yuchi and Qin at the door, the emperor finally got a full night of rest. The emperor did not wish to trouble his two valued generals further, so he had two portraits of Yuchi and Qin painted. The two portraits were hung on both sides of the doors to the emperor's quarters. The emperor's good sleep was sustained as ghosts were kept away by the images on the portraits.
On and off in Chinese history, door guard paintings have been posted on the doors of the homes of private citizens. Traditionally, these were woodblock prints on paper. That paper was then pasted onto the doors or at the sides by the doors to keep ghosts out of the home. The prints would only last a year at the most, then another would be pasted over last year's. Very few of the original wood block prints survived over the past 1,500 years that door guards have been posted on doors. However, the art and technique survive and are practiced by a select few.
In modern times, most door guard portraits are cheaply made with a printing press on card stock or plastic. But if you want the real thing, made completely by hand, this is the artwork you want.
Woodblock printing is a process, where dye or paint is applied to a carefully carved wooden block or plate. Paper is then placed on the prepared block and a roller is applied to the paper to ensure the dye or paint transfers properly and evenly on the paper. The woodblock printing process is only for the black lines of the image. The artist later applies colorful paint to the piece to finish it off.
The art of woodblock printing spans nearly 1,800 years of Chinese history. The carving (xylography) and printing process has remained the same since that ancient time.
2004 Tang Zhong-Lin plays the erhu (an ancient two-stringed Chinese violin) at his shop in Chengdu.
2008 I discover Mr. Tang carving a woodblock print plate out of solid birch.
About once a year for the past 7 years, I make a trip to Chengdu in the Sichuan province of China (that's where the pandas live). Each time, I visit Huang Xin-An (one of my favorite artists).
In the tiny shop next to Huang Xin-An's is a very quiet, and yet eccentric man. His name is Tang Zhong-Lin (Mr. Tang). His shop is like a collection of curiosities. He has rare trinkets and antiques from rare places and times in China. From time to time, I buy one of those trinkets for personal use, or as a gift for a close friend.
One year, some oil paintings appeared in his shop. I ask Mr. Tang about them, and he told me that he painted them. The images are dark; Not just the colors, but the subject as well. One appears to be an angel in hell. I ask the price, but they are out of my price range.
More than a year later, I am back in Chengdu. After buying a couple hundred watercolor paintings from Huang Xin-An (a year's supply), I see Mr. Tang slowly working with a scribe and chisel on a huge block of hardwood. I ask what he's working on, and without a word, he flips the wood over. Suddenly, I know just what it is. He's carving the plate for a woodblock print.
I then talk to Mr. Tang at length about how I tried to buy woodblock prints before, but the colors always bled when we tried to mount them to wall scrolls. Mr. Tang says this was because most woodblock prints are made to be pasted by people's doors and forgotten about. They're not made to last. Then he says he'll make me some quality woodblock prints that are made to last. With the use of quality paints, he assures me that there will be no bleeding of the colors when we mount the artwork. I specify that I want them done on handmade "picaozhi" (so-called "leather grass paper"). He likes my paper choice for his artwork, and we strike a deal. I pile a hefty sum of money into Mr. Tang's hands and continue my journey.
A few months later, a package full of very cool woodblock prints arrived at my family apartment in Beijing. They look great.
They've been mounted to handmade wall scrolls at our workshop. Now you can hang this rare artwork of ancient technique and origin in your home.
This woodblock print is of a higher quality than you would normally find. It's made to last a lifetime.
All carving and Chinese character must be created in mirror image of the final product.
Time for a smile during the carving.
There's no rush, as it takes weeks to carve both sides of the block.
Tang Zhong-Lin is in his late 40s. When describing himself, he seems proud of his rather round eyes (at least more round than most Chinese people). He is a collector and dealer of many unique items. In his shop you'll find antique incense burners, bronze Buddha heads, antique door locks, and much more. Buying and selling these items is how he makes his living, but he also has an artistic streak. He's been having trouble finding a market for his somewhat morbid and abstract oil paintings in China (we're still thinking about helping him find a market in the west). His love of classic Chinese subjects, has led him to master the art of woodblock printing. Next time you're at the arts and antiques market in Chengdu, maybe you'll run across Mr. Tang carving on another block of wood, or putting the finishing touches on an oil painting.
Once it arrived at the workshop, this artwork was laminated to more sheets of xuan paper and built into a handmade silk wall scroll by our skilled craftsmen. See more about building wall scrolls
This item was listed or modified
Apr 6th, 2013
Gary's random little things about China:
When crossing a street, or merely making your way down the road, there is a certain law of physics that comes into play: When two forces meet, one must yield.
Here is the general yielding scheme in China:
Cars yield to big buses and trucks.
Bicycles and cars mingle and narrowly avoid each other. When push comes to shove, the bicyclist knows he will lose the fight. But the car driver knows that the bicycle will scratch his car when he runs it over, and will only yield on that premise.
Cars will not yield to, but are required to avoid pedestrians. When you hit a pedestrian at low speed, it does very little damage, and unlike a bicycle, will almost never scratch your car. Therefore pedestrians are given a smaller margin.
Note: Regardless of green or red stop lights, it is against the law to come to a complete stop when making a right hand turn in China (no matter how many pedestrians are in the way). The rule is "honk and avoid, then continue on your way".
Motor scooters yield to no one, not even when they are being driven on a pedestrian-filled sidewalk. Motor scooters zip around like they have nothing to lose - this may be true, as smaller motor scooters require no license of any kind and are very cheap.
If you are driving on the wrong side of the road, or going the wrong way on a one-way street, you do not have to yield to anyone, no matter what kind of vehicle you are operating.
Cars will yield (not by choice) to pedestrians crossing the street in numbers greater than 10 (it is best in China to invite 9 of your friends for an outing if you plan to cross a lot of streets).
In lieu of yielding, drivers are required to honk at pedestrians. I swear to God, this is the law! It's a safety issue: If you are passing a pedestrian that is walking on the side of the road, you are required by law to honk at them to let them know you are there.
Note: All streets in Chinese cities, sound like a New York traffic jam 24 hours per day with all this "safety honking".
I have not been able to find a traffic law that states you must yield to ambulances. And in practice, very few drivers do.
When two large vehicles come face to face on a narrow roadway, and neither can pass, neither will yield. They will sit there, honking at each other for a while. After several cars are lined up behind them, they will decide that they should have yielded earlier, and start to back up. This is to the great dismay of all the cars behind them who will honk in unison. This could go on for an hour or more. It ends when a police officer arrives, tells both drivers what idiots they are, issues tickets to both of them, and then systematically makes the situation worse by insisting that all the smaller cars turn around (rather than back up) by making 162-point turns in the small roadway. Eventually, two of the cars will hit each other, for which both drivers will be cited and fined on the spot.