Pottery Figurines Tell Story

May 17, 2019
Editor: Ling Xiao
Wang Congying drew nine illustrations to depict the images of the pottery figurines [Women of China]


A series of nine illustrations about pottery figurines, each with a cute cartoon image and a popular Internet phrase, went viral on Weibo last year. The illustrator, whose online name is Baili Muyan, has since attracted many followers. The illustrator, whose real name is Wang Congying, is a fine arts teacher in Taizhou, in East China's Zhejiang Province. Wang hopes to have her series of pottery-figurine illustrations published. She also has another dream: To produce an animated film highlighting cultural relics from ancient China. 
Wang, born in 1990, is a big fan of famous writer Jin Yong, who is best known for his Chinese martial arts novels. Wang fell in love with drawing and painting when she was a little girl. She used to draw and paint on her books and walls at home. When she was practicing calligraphy, she liked to paint, with ink, on her clothes. Her parents sometimes got mad at her.
Before she wrote the college-entrance exams, Wang hoped to study animation or archeology. But her teachers could not promise those majors would ensure her either a promising future or adequate career development. Wang eventually studied fine arts and, after her graduation, she became a fine arts teacher in her hometown, Taizhou.
Truly cute
In July 2018, Wang visited Nanjing Museum, in East China's Jiangsu Province, to see an exhibition. To her surprise, despite the variety of items displayed at the exhibition, she was most attracted by many of the pottery figurines, which the museum had collected for a standing exhibition. At that time, Wang was studying illustrations in some children's picture books published overseas. She thought the pottery figurines might also be depicted as cute "characters," each with a unique trait.

Each of these illustrations are combined the image of a pottery figurine with something popular on the Internet. [Women of China]

In the following month, she drew nine illustrations to depict the images of the pottery figurines. It took her three days to complete one illustration. She did not feel tired; rather, she felt exhilarated as she completed the works.
The illustration of a female figurine performing the "haicao (seaweed)" dance was quite popular." I was inspired by a pottery figurine from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 ), "Wang explained." The figurine's shape looked like a woman stretching her sleeves while dancing. I thought she might be performing a popular dance in that period. I asked myself what dance could be that popular today? 'Haicao' dance immediately occurred to me. The gesture of the figurine resembles a gesture in 'haicao' dance, so I drew such an illustration."

The gesture of the figurine resembles a gesture in 'haicao' dance. [Women of China]

In much the same process, Wang drew several other illustrations, each of which combined the image of a pottery figurine with something popular on the Internet. She used the illustrations to reflect her emotions. For example, the image of a male pottery figurine clenching his fist and saying "Come on!" was her first illustration. Wang drew that illustration to cheer herself up, because only a few of her relatives and friends supported her goal to become a professional illustrator. The illustrations Wang posted on Weibo touched many netizens' hearts. As Baili Muyan , she became known by an increasing number of people.
'Gifts from history'
Wang posted the series of pottery-figurine illustrations on her Weibo account on August 2, 2018. She did not pay much attention to netizens' feedback. Then, one day, one of her students told her that her illustrations became one of the "hot topics" that Weibo administrators recommended its users to search for.
"I logged into Weibo and found seven media outlets had sent me interview invitations. There were a lot of comments from netizens too. I was shocked," Wang recalled.

Wang used the illustrations to reflect her emotions. [Women of China]

Although many netizens praised Wang for her creative ideas and interesting illustrations, some asked if Wang's works were disrespectful to cultural relics. Facing those critics, Wang answered: "We are living in an inclusive era. Regardless of the positive or negative feedback, it is important for the works to be seen, and to be discussed by viewers. In my opinion, if I create the works with respect to history, and if I spread my works in a positive way, I am doing something right."
Nature and museums represent the two most important "sources" for people to absorb inspiration as they create art, Wang says. "So why can't we make good use of the gifts from history?" Wang says people's aesthetic tastes develop in accordance with the times. "If the context and living environment of an era changes, it will naturally affect people's appreciation of art. For me, drawing illustrations is like a writer composing his/her works. Drawing offers me a way to express my feelings, and to depict my sense of value," Wang adds.
Pursuing a dream

The fine arts teacher actually has created many "characters" based on the figurines. [Women of China]

In addition to drawing and painting, Wang likes yoga; in fact, she has studied yoga for several years. In 2016, she traveled to India, by herself, to take part in a yoga camp. She knew nothing about the Indic language, and her English was not good, so she used drawings tocommunicate with the locals.
"Drawing was the earliest method for people to communicate in ancient society. It is also important to smile, so others know you are easy to get along with. Drawing and smiling helped me make friends with the locals," Wang said.
Will she continue to draw illustrations of pottery figurines? "Of course!" Wang answered without hesitation. In fact, she has created many "characters" based on the figurines. She hopes to create a comic strip based on her favorite figurines. 
She also remembers her dream from childhood. "I want to produce an animated film, which highlights communications between cultural relics and people. It will be a fairytale-like story to depict my views on life and death," Wang says. 
Although she did not plan to be a teacher when she was young, she has treasured the time she has spent with her students. Gradually, she fell in love with her career. Still, she refuses to forget her dream of producing an animated film.


(Source: Women of China)

Please understand that womenofchina.cn,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: website@womenofchina.cn. The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by womenofchina.cn.