Chinese Arts & Crafts

Chinese Arts & Crafts

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ke’ai Love

If you traveled to China you probably noticed that Chinese love adorable and sweet things such as cute characters or designs. The obsession with cute is actually not only Chinese, but more in general it`s an East Asian phenomenon, and not just young girls, but adults too, are affected.
The Chinese term for cute is “ke’ai” (可爱), which literally means “lovable” or “adorable”, and is used to describe anything that is diminutive, for example, all children can be described as ke`ai, as well as small animals and inanimate objects. The innocence of childhood and small creatures certainly has a beauty of its own. Perhaps ke`ai is so popular because people yearn for a return to those days of sweet innocence.

Looking at ancient arts and crafts objects I came to believe that the Chinese people`s fondness for ke’ai it`s not only a 21st century fashion trend, but it has a very long history.
Porcelain, paper cuts, carvings, embroideries, woodblock prints, cute dolls... For thousands of years the ancestors of today's Chinese created fine art forms, many adorably small in size and perfect in every detail.

Here’s my small collection of ke`ai craft objects gathered browsing museums and crafts shops, enjoy!

A world in miniature
The pictures below show the details of an ivory carving depicting one of the most famous Chinese love story "The Romance of The West Chamber", displayed at the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum.

The beauty of youth and innocence

Boys playing on turtle - wood carving

Boys playing - wood carving

Boys playing with fireworks - detail of porcelain vase

Little girl wearing a tiger hat and holding a red lantern
Wuxi clay figurine

Round is cute

Chinese Buddhist deities are often depicted as a laughing (bald) man with a largely exposed belly to symbolize happiness and good luck.

Laughing Buddha - Jade Carving
Eight Gods of Wealth - Olive Pit Carving

Da A Fu, deities guardians of Huishan - Wuxi Clay Figurines

The charm of animals

Little chicks - embroidery

Rabbits - painted wall scroll

Frog on a lotus flower - Clay pot

Tiger Hats, traditionally worn by children as protection from evil

Chick breaking through eggshell - Jade Carving

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