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The Changes in Wang XiSan’s Studio Name Part 2 – Semi-farming Studio (1967-1968) 从王习三的堂名变迁看历史——半农斋(1967~1968年)

The Changes in Wang XiSan’s Studio Name Part 2 – Semi-farming Studio (1967-1968) 从王习三的堂名变迁看历史——半农斋(1967~1968年)

冀派內畫泰斗鼻煙壺內畫大師王習三 -《荷塘清趣》1967年作于天津
Lotus Pond painted in TianJing in 1967

 

Living In Beijing

Wang XiSan had only left Beijing once and that was when he was 11 years old. At that year, Wang XiSan visited his uncle in the village and stayed there for ten days. Lice laced his clothes at the end of the trip. His mother needed to use boiling water to kill the lice before the clothes can be wore again.

冀派內畫泰斗鼻煙壺內畫大師王習三 - 1968年王习三在杨庄村的半农斋画室
Wang XiSan working in the “Semi-Farming Studio “in 1968

The Cultural Revolution

Newspapers and radio constantly exposed Wang to propaganda in the city. All he heard about was the greatness of a socialism society. However, during the cultural revolution, the true picture shocked him when he was deported to his home town. Life was not even as good as it used to be. At that time, there was a saying in the village that “The buttocks of the hen is their only bank” (using eggs to exchange for living necessities). Food and basic necessity were limited. Villagers will need to take a loan before they can afford for anything extra.

Many young people were deployed to the rural area in 1967. This was to fulfill the initiative of Chairman Mao’s “Fifty-seven Instructions”. “Agriculture, and farmers must be the most important economic pillar of the society. But due to poor management, a shortage of water and fertilizer, most of the land had terrible harvest. Most farmers were poor and can barely sustain their livelihood.

冀派內畫泰斗鼻煙壺內畫大師王習三 - 落款为“作于半农斋”之作《戊申山水》
Landscape Painting signed off with “Semi-Farming Studio” by Wang XiSan

Setting Up The Trade

Seeing the suffering of the farmers, Wang XiSan wonder if he could create a sideline business – by selling inside painted snuff bottle. The extra cash generated could help the needy farmers. Wang XiSan made a proposal to the leaders of the village revolutionary committee. However, they had never heard or seen an inside painted snuff bottle. Fortunately, Wang had carried along three blanks that was brought from the Red Guards in Beijing. After seeing his painting skill, the village leaders reluctantly allowed Wang to sell his painting through the Tianjing’s foreign trade. Wang also promised to pay for all the expenses.

冀派內畫泰斗鼻煙壺內畫大師王習三 - 落款为“作于半农斋”之作《八骏图》
Eight Stallion, signed off with “Semi-Farming Studio” by Wang XiSan

Wang XiSan succeeded in linking up with the Tianjin Arts & Crafts Import and Export Company. His business took off and his earning could subsidized the expenses of the village. The new opportunities delighted the villagers. The best available meeting room in the village was converted to Wang studio. Bright glass windows replaces the old wooden lattice windows.

In 1968, he formally reopened his studio in the rural areas of Hebei Province. Wang named his studio “Semi-farming Studio” (半农斋). This is because he still need to delicate half of his time to farming as per the directive of Chairman Mao.

Closure Of The Studio

Wang was not lucky. In the winter of 1970, a political campaign aimed at cracking down on counter-revolutionary started. The communist party accused Wang of planning to seize power from the party and closed his studio.

冀派內畫泰斗鼻煙壺內畫大師王習三 - 1968年,王习三绘制的首个《百子图》
The First “100 Children Bottle” painted by Wang XiSan in 1968
冀派內畫泰斗鼻煙壺內畫大師王習三 - 1968年发明金属杆勾毛笔
The Modern Inside Painting brush, invented by Wang XiSan in 1968

冀派內畫泰斗鼻煙壺內畫大師王習三 -

One Response to The Changes in Wang XiSan’s Studio Name Part 2 – Semi-farming Studio (1967-1968) 从王习三的堂名变迁看历史——半农斋(1967~1968年)

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