The Nelson-Atkins
Living with the Spirits
Home/Exhibitions/Living with the Spirits

Living with the Spirits: Decorating Homes in Traditional China

During festivals and seasonal occasions in China, family members select brightly colored prints to display on their doors, windows, walls, and furniture. These prints, called New Year pictures (nianhua), heighten the cheerful holiday feeling.

More than decoration, they represent cultural and spiritual values. They depict positive images of deities that protect the family, emblems of good fortune, and theatrical scenes. The installation in this gallery re-creates the decoration of a traditional Chinese home.

For groups interested in learning more about the artwork on view in this exhibition, please request a Chinese Collection tour and request in the notes that the exhibition be included as part of the tour.

Images: (Top) Crane Pecking a Peach 鶴啣壽桃 清末民初, Chinese, Late 19th-early 20th century. Woodblock print in ink and color on paper, Overall: 10 15/16 x 15 3/4 inches. Bequest of Laurence Sickman, F88-44/372. Door Gods (Shentu and Yulei), China, late 1800s–early 1900s, Yangliuqing, Tianjing City, Woodblock print in ink and colors on paper, hand painted colors. Bequest of Laurence Sickman, F88-44/410, 418.