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Top 5 Asian + Pacific Islander Art Innovations

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and in recognition of the amazing artistic innovations from Ancient to contemporary times, we would like to bring you this month's Top 5!

#1 Stenciling: Ancient Polynesians

Photo by Vladimir Proskurovskiy

Stenciling is a popular pastime for street artists as well as scrapbookers and DIYers, but did you know that the ancient Polynesians and Fijians started doing it with banana leaves?


#2 Shadow Puppets: 1st Millenia BC, Central Asia and India

Intricately cut out puppets were created in Central Asia and India, and then became popular in China as entertainment. Contemporary children even love creating elaborate animals and scenes with their hands thanks to this tradition.


#3 Mandala: 1st Century BC, India

Photo by Swati H. Das

Mandala's started as a spiritual illustration and meditation in India and have become a central part of spiritual expression in Tibet, Nepal, China, and all over Asia, even making their way to the West. A mandala, which is Sanskrit for “circle” or “discoid object,” is a geometric design that holds a great deal of symbolism in Hindu and Buddhist cultures.


#4 Papermaking: 25-220 AD, China

Photo by Annie Spratt

Paper is as mainstream as bread, but it originated in China in the early 1st and 2nd Centuries. Perhaps combining Mulberry, Hemp and Cotton, the first papermakers would mash the pulp, press it down and let it dry in the sun. Prior to this invention, writers used clay, stone, parchment (animal skin) papyrus or wax.


#5 Katagami (precurser to modern Screen Printing): 1000 AD, Japan

Screen printing is the ultimate DIY handmade, punk rock method of making art. But, it's origins may surprise you! It is one of the oldest methods of printmaking! It is said to have been invented in the Song Dynasty of China, and then the Japanese expanded upon this older stencil method to create intricate designs for decorating kimono's. They used human hair to create mesh that they would paint with a pulpy gel made from persimmons. Then when this dried, intricate designs were cut and dye was pushed through with a "squeegee" of sorts. Of course, silk replaced hair as it was stronger, and now we use monofilament polyester.

We hope that gives you some knowledge and respect for a large part of our world population and their amazing achievements throughout history!

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