Happy Lunar New Year! Lunar New Year, or more commonly known as Chinese New Year, is celebrated in many East Asian cultures, and marks the beginning of a new lunar calendar year. Celebrations and festivities run for 15 days and conclude with the Lantern Festival. While most commonly associated with China, many East and Southeast Asian countries celebrate Lunar New Year, all with different traditions and festivities, but commonly revolve around themes of longevity, wealth, good fortune, and happiness.

Each year has an associated animal of the zodiac, as well as one of the five elements of Chinese astrology—fire, water, earth, wood, and metal. This year is the year of the fire monkey!

Celebrate The Year of the Monkey with Hanzan Matsukawa’s woodblock print, Monkey with New Year’s Orange and Toothpick, ca. 1860. Why a Japanese print? Japan also observed the Chinese lunar calendar until the year 1868.

Posted by David Alvarez

Major international loan exhibition “Gardens, Art, and Commerce in Chinese Woodblock Prints” opens in the Boone Gallery this Saturday! Among the nearly 50 objects in the show is The Huntington’s own Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (ca. 1633–1703), on public view for the first time.

Head to VERSO to read about Ten Bamboo.

image: Detail of bird eating fruit, Painting 2, Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting, ca. 1633–1703, compiled and edited by Hu Zhengyan (1584/5–1673/4), woodblock-printed book mounted as album leaves, ink and colors on paper. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. “Gardens, Art, and Commerce in Chinese Woodblock Prints” is on view Sept. 17, 2016, through Jan. 9, 2017.

Xu Bing - Book from the Sky [detail], circa 1987-91

“While the work is inspired by the form and typography of traditional Chinese woodblock publications, faithfully replicating every stylistic detail of traditional Chinese printing, not a single one of its roughly 1,200 characters… is intelligible. Each of these imaginary characters conveys the appearance of legibility but remains defiantly undecipherable.”

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