A Chinese Handling box for Temple Newsam House, Leeds
Child´s trousers made from a J-Cloth, Lucky Symbol Hanging, Rice packet
Description: Traditional style child’s trousers made from a J-Cloth
Use: Worn by toddlers. The hole in the middle means that the child does not need to wear a nappy!
Lucky Symbol Hanging
Description: Machine embroidered “Fu” character meaning “luck”.
Use: Hung in the house at Chinese New Year alongside characters for health and long life. Often hung upside down to let the luck “come in”. Can also be seen at other times of year. Touching the sign is thought to bring good luck.
Background: Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the Spring Festival, takes place according to the lunar calendar and is usually in January or February. It is the biggest festival of the year and a time for families to be reunited and to honour their ancestors. All the family gathers for a meal on New Year’s Eve, on a table spread with new tablecloths and using new chopsticks and dishes. Calligraphy pictures symbolising good luck and long life are hung around the house, and fireworks and firecrackers are set off. On New Year’s Day everyone dresses in new clothes and visits relatives and friends, taking gifts such as fruit or flowers and money for the children, and being offered tea and sweetmeats to eat. The festivities last for fifteen days and include dragon and lion dances.
Description: Cloth wrapped in banana leaves and tied with string
Use: Mock-up of sticky rice packet made for Dragon Boat Festival
Background: The Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month, and is sometimes known as the Fifth Moon Festival. The festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, an honest minister and poet who lived in the Warring States period (475–221 BC). He was said to be a loyal and wise minister who had helped bring peace to the land. When corrupt officials took over and sent Qu Yuan into disgrace, he jumped into a river to kill himself. Fisherman tried to save him but he died and his body was never found. Every year the people threw rice into the river to feed his hungry ghost, but one year his ghost appeared and told them to wrap the rice in leaves and tie it with string to stop it being eaten by creatures in the river. The rice packets are still made today to commemorate Qu Yuan’s death, and dragon boat races take place to represent the attempts of the fishermen to save him.
Links with the Pillars of Light Alive! project: This rice packet was made by one of the women in the Chinese Elderly Women’s Group. It is an example of the type of crafts that the women were familiar with.