Foshan, located in the south central area of Guangdong Province, the heartlands of the Pearl River Delta neighboring Guangzhou in the east and close to Hong Kong and Macao, has a favorable location. The custom of carving Door Gods has been popular since the Song and Yuan Dynasties in the regions of Guangzhou and Foshan. Originally Door Gods were simply carved on door panels. Later on they were carved on wooden boards to be used in the mass printing of wood block prints which would be sold at market.
The production of Foshan New Year wood-block prints reached its prime during the reign of Emperors Qian Long and Jia Qing of the Qing Dynasty, and it was phased out in 1930s. In terms of craftsmanship, Foshan New Year wood-block prints is classified into the categories of original painting, wood printing and fine brushwork wood printing. In terms of themes, the art form is classified into the categories of door paintings, idol paintings and genre paintings. These are generally used for rituals and decorative purposes or to express the people’s wishes to expel evil and to experience ease and comfort in living.
Foshan new year wood-block prints are a unique form of local activity, reflecting the roots of Foshan’s local history and culture. They also help provide general information on Foshan’s traditional painting and printing techniques.
At present the Feng Family are the only heirs to the Foshan new year wood-block prints. Therefore, it is a matter of urgency that effective protective measures are taken to save this valuable print-making technique.