Shijin from Qingdao: collected over 10,000 old folk artworks in the past thirty years
Web Editor:International Daily
In the folk art museum built by Shi Jin behind Fushan, Qingdao, a great variety of time-worn articles including the fish platter of Shandong, clay sculpture of Fengxiang, embroidery of the Miao nationality, figured cloth of Hunan, the bridal sedan chair of Ningbo, hamper, farm tools, and stone carving reflect unusual brilliance of traditional folk culture.
As a professor with the Art School of Qingdao University, Shi Jin likes taking his graduate students to “retire into” a mountain village or an ancient town in all over China. The time-honored folk tradition and old customs and the once lost utensils and handicraft are so attractive to him that he can hardly tear himself away from them. Over 10,000 old articles he has collected cover all the ranges of clothing, food, housing, transportation and use. The collection is not only his best material to study the folk art but also his best teaching appliance.
The folk art implies auspicious meanings
Shi Jin said: “All my collection are the tools the human beings started creating in grain production, processing and daily eating from the agrarian society. We can see a complete agrarian cultural chain from them.” Starting with the first Boshan fish pattern plate collected in the 1980s till building this folk art museum with over 10,000 folk-custom exhibits, Shi Jin has walked along between the history and folk tradition and old customs. Articles on display include the simple but delicate old-fashioned trousseau, lifelike fish carving mold, superb embroidery, unsophisticated but elegant coarse clothes, vanishing textile machines and carefully carved and processed ink fountain. Shi Jin said: “All these utensils were consumable goods used by the civilian in their everyday life, so it is extremely difficult to preserve them for so many years. To beautify these utensils ubiquitously seen around the ordinary people have a lot of implied meanings and carry the people’s good expectations for a better life.”
Every piece of collection is filled with stories and history
Every year, Shi Jin spends about three to four months in remote towns or villages of other places. It is amazing and astonishing for him to learn about the most primitive weaving process in the tribes, see different kinds of exquisite murals on antique wooden wall, a swastika painted with white ash-shaped pigment and conch-shaped patterns. A sense of warmth and affection can also be felt in the process of recording, photographing, and collecting. The folk art collection of Shi Jin has a lot of series including the Zibo fish-pattern ceramic plate series, hamper series, Jiaodong flour food mold series, fabrics and Lu brocade series and farm tools. Only for the big fish-patterned plates produced in Boshan, Shandong, Shi Jin has collected over 1,000 of them covering over 300 varieties. “Folk articles are much more difficult to preserve than royal utensils because they are being used all the time. Especially for the fish-patterned ceramic plates, how difficult is it to keep them intact!” Shi Jin said that for every article, no matter if it is flour food mold, fish platter, embroidery or wax printing, and he could tell a story and interpret them from the aspects of their style, emblazonry and implied meanings.
His collection facilitating scientific research
“In the first class, I would take the graduate students I tutor to this museum to see the folk art exhibits. In this way, they can perceive the folk art the most directly. These practical projects can get students out of the limitation of just drawing patterns and make the products designed by students have more practical applicability rather than pure art aesthetics. Compared to imagination out of the void, physical objects can better stimulate the creation inspirations of my students.” In the opinion of Shi Jin, the antique folk articles are all outstanding design works left after hundreds of years. A carving or pattern can represent the aesthetic standard of the ordinary people at that time. The design is to serve the society and its essence is to provide good services to the society. Wang Jianliang
(1. Shi Jin in his folk art museum.
2. A hamper collected from Shanxi province.
3.A bridal sedan chair collected from Ningbo.
4. A half-meter-long giant ceramic flour food mould.)