Activities of Daily Living

Going to Temple


Daily activities are the subject of many Chinese Naive paintings. In "Going to Temple", peasants approach the temple for prayer.


In "Carrying Water" peasants make their way from the well to their households in the daily task of bringing water to their homes.


Carrying Water


Home From Work


In "Home from Work" a fisherman returns home to join his family for dinner after a day of fishing.



As in any culture, their are numerous occasions for celebrations in the villages where children play games and music in played. This is the scene in "Village Festival".

Village Festival


Herding Sheep


Of course, work is an important element in every culture. In the Chinese peasant culture, paintings depict rural vocations such as "Herding Sheep".


"Boat Building" is also an important profession. 


Boat Building




Sometimes paintings portray an interesting mix of ancient traditions with modern images. An seen in "Acrobats" where costumed players walk on stilts performing traditional Chinese theater, camera crews film the show while a live audience watches. 


Another example of the mixing of ancient and modern is seen in "Protecting Crops" which shows an interesting juxtaposition of the ancient profession of farming with the use of an airplane to spread insecticide on crops.

Protecting Crops

Importance of the River

For Chinese peasants, rivers are a critical artery for most of life's activities: transport of crops, irrigation, washing, fishing, and fun. Many of the Chinese peasant painters focus their creativity on the river to illustrate this vital element of life.


Fishing Port

In "Fishing Port"  by Chien Lu, a busy port of the Yangzi River is depicted. The artist, a peasant laborer by trade, takes a break from his daily chores to depict the bustling port with graceful symmetry and dramatic color, creating an idealized view of a common Chinese scene. At first glance, the fishing junks in the harbor appear to be identical. But with closer inspection, differences in small details can be found in each boat.


The Fisherman


An individual fisherman is shown in Cao Xiuwen's "The Fisherman" as he nets fish from a colorful body of water. An interesting side bar, the artist claims that Henry Kissenger bought this painting on one of his visits to China in the 1970s.


Another fisherman is shown pulling in his catch from the pier in "The Big Net". The Big Net


Dragon Boats


The building of whimsical dragon-shaped boats is the subject of "Dragon Boats".


A rowing competition in the subject of "Boat Races".


Boat Races


The Music Barge

And, peasants are making lively music on the river in "The Music Barge".


The Seasons

Springtime on the River


The seasons are beautifully captured by Chinese peasant paintings. Cao Xiuwen's "Springtime on the River" shows the fishing boats tied to the willow trees, with blackbirds perched on the empty boats.


Freshly leafed trees and spring flowers are depicted in the "Blue Forest".


Blue Forest


Ducks in Summer

The images of ducks swimming in the river are captured in "Ducks in Summer".


Heavy rains are the subject of "Rain on Village". Here the artist created an atmosphere of driving rain by making hundreds of brush strokes depicting rain drops.



Rain on Village


Snowy River front


Snowy scenes are also popular in Chinese peasant paintings, created by fine splattering of white paint on the surface of the paper after creating the primary composition. In "Snowy Riverfront"  the muted colors and palette create the feeling of cold.


 A similar effect is created in "Winter Gathering". One can almost feel the cold when looking at these paintings.


Winter Gathering


First Snow


In contrast, "First Snow" captures the excitement of the first snow of the season by the use of bright color, the playful dogs and the cheerful postures of the characters.

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