23. Li Zijian and Chinese charms

In his oil paintings of young children, Chinese artist Li Zijian 李自健 often shows them wearing a silver lock (baijiasuo 百家锁) around the neck. The locks are for protection, to lock the child into life. For examples of real silver locks, see Pinterest or Primaltrek.

Li was born in 1954 in Shaoyang City, Hunan Province. He graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts Oil Painting Department in 1982, and moved to Los Angeles in 1988. The images below (and many more of his paintings) can be found here.

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啼晓 (Crowing at Dawn) – note the lock around the child’s neck, and the coin fastened to the child’s cap.

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春回大地 (Spring returns to the land) – note the lock around the child’s neck

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草垛 (Haystack) – note the lock around the child’s neck and the charms sewn on the child’s cap

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