Wu Yuanxin Jiangsu, China

Wu Yuanxin is head of the Blue Calico Art Research Institute at Nantong University, President of Nantong Blue Calico Museum,a master of Chinese arts and crafts, successor of the First National Intangible Cultural Heritages, and adjunct professor at the Department of Textile and Fashion Design, Tsinghua University.

He started making and studying blue calico in 1976, and in 1996 established the first blue calico museum in China that collects, displays, researches and inherits blue calico works. It was named by the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Society as the "China Blue Calico Art Heritage Center". In 2006, he was awarded the Shanhua Award of Chinese Folk Literature and Art for personal achievements. Over the past four decades, he collected and preserved more than 26,000 pieces of blue calico works and 120,000 print patterns that were scattered all over China. His designs are collected by the National Museum, National Art Museum of China, and China National Arts and Crafts Museum.



Blue Calico and Daily Life


In the Ming and Qing dynasties, blue calico was a preferred clothing choice for girls, and blue gowns were popular among boys. Blue calico was used for babies' swaddles with "Longevity" and "Felicity" printed on the surface. When a child learned to speak and walk, parents would put a blue calico bib on it to drive away mosquitoes and evil spirits. When a child went to school, parents would make a blue calico quilt cover with "the very best scholar" printed on the surface, as a wish to study hard and get good grades. When a person got married, parents would give him a blue calico quilt cover with "the qilin brings the blessing of a child" blessing on it to wish that the newlyweds would soon have children. When people grew older, children would offer them a blue calico quilt cover with "may you live with felicity and longevity" as a wish for their health and long life. Blue calico was linked to a person's whole life. At present, blue calico is not as popular as before, but many people like them for their fresh, quiet elegance.


Expectation for the Young Generation to Inherit this Technique


My expectation is that they will carry on the essence in traditional Chinese culture, create more innovative works, and at the same time preserve the core technique of this traditional craftsmanship. We can't abandon or break away from the core values of traditional techniques, because then we are not carrying on the heritage. For example, nowadays people are making blue calico with printing machines. It's totally different from what our ancestors left for us.


The Biggest Wish


Blue calico is like my child and part of my life. I hope blue calico techniques keep being carried forward, and that the Blue Calico Museum is constantly improving. In the meantime, I hope the successors of traditional techniques can draw attention and get support from all walks of society, especially from the government. I also expect the media to help publicize intangible cultural heritage and raise people's awareness about the value of intangible cultural heritage. As a result, people will feel a sense of responsibility to preserve these heritages, thus becoming more culturally self-conscious and confident. More and more young people will be committed to this. Intangible cultural heritage is the legacy of our ancestors and a symbol of our national spirit and history. We must carry it forward and make sure it never ends.


Please login or Sign up to add your comment


Share in Wechat Moments

Scan QR Code to share in Wechat Moments