To completely understand the folk culture of a city, it is inevitable to go deep into the spiritual core of the city, which is deeply rooted in its history and culture. Before my introduction of our handicraft research journey, please allow me to illustrate the history and present condition of Weifang about its history which is not known by the public.
6000 years ago, on the Chinese land of wilderness, Weifang has taken the lead in inflaming the sparkles of human civilization. Dawenkou culture found in Weifang Zhucheng is the classic representative of the primitive civilization of the Yellow River basin. Longshan culture evolved later from it has demonstrated the huge progress human society achieved in technical skill and social structure through the exquisitely polished black pottery and the tombs of distinct wealth hierarchy.
The vivid pig-shaped and dog-shaped pottery gui are telling us the headstream of agricultural civilization: the rice filed harvests at the foot of Ehu Mountain. In the livestock lot, the pigs are fat and the door leaves are half open. The sun sets and the mulberry trees reflect a long shadow. On the Community Day, the family helps the people who get drunk to get back home- in the primitive civilization of Weifang, the farming, hunting, fishing and the breeding of poultry and livestock have laid a solid foundation for the traditional farming civilization.
In the Western Zhou Dynasty, King Wu of Zhou canonized Jiang Taigong in Qi, the capital was Yinqqiu (located in Changle). Weifang is situated in Shandong Province, where is the hometown of Confucius and Menciu. There is the scholar like Gongye Chang, who is smart enough to understand the language of birds and knowledgeable in rites and music. Also, there is the wise chancellor like Yanzi who can give valid advice to the emperor and spread the edification from the authority to the people.
Here is full of nature bestows and rich in cultural history. Weifang has given birth to Zhang Zeduan, painter in Northern Song Dynasty whose masterpiece is Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival. In the picture, the buildings are tall with lights on the street sparkling, the transportation is busy on the road. The painter has the flourishing world in his heart and the beauty naturally flows under his brush. Weifang in Northern Song Dynasty is supposed to be blooming in economy with the boats and market busy. With the delight of common people, the creation mood of Zhang Zeduan is pleasant as well, thanks to the prosperous street culture of Weifang.
Walk alone with the swallow, go back with the rain of flowers
Coming back, the chrysanthemums are glowing outside the house. The chrysanthemums once appear in the house of Tao Yuanming and reveal the luster in the courtyard of Luo Han. Guilai House in Qingzhou is the book gallery of Li Qingzhao and her husband Zhao Mingcheng. The name indicates “go back home, the countryside is becoming the wilderness.” There, the two of them talked about the literature over the tea and composed Gold Stone. Donglai is not as far as Penglai as long as we can communicate through letters. Yi’an’s admiring of the two is clearly revealed in the poem.
Wei County in Qing dynasty is warm and affectionate. Zheng Banqiao used to be the county head of Wei County. He attached great concern to people’s livelihood and spent a lot of efforts in disaster relief. His affection was shown in every detail as a upright official recorded in history.
Ding Shanbao, the richest person in Wei County, had repaired the major bridge in Wei County wholly by himself. Being rich and benevolent, he had benefited the people of his hometown. Shihu Garden built by him was unique and exquisite as the outstanding representative of gardens in the north.
Today’s Weifang is the integration of tradition and modernity. The appeal of tradition is in the pottery, the kites and the works of Moyan. The modernity is reflected in the rapid development of Shouguang Agricultural Base and the bustling modern business district. There is a lot to elaborate on the past and present of Weifang, and we will appreciate it along the way.