In a folk painting from a rural painting community in Huxian County, Shaanxi Province, a herd of fluffy longhorn sheep are brought down a mountain path by a young boy and girl. The painter, in an inspired flight of fancy, adorned the sides of the sheep with colorful circular designs of pinwheels, flowers and stars. Gouache on paper, the piece is unsigned as was generally the case for art from China's peasant painting communities. Huxian was the site of the first such community, established in 1958 in a rural region outside the city of Xian. From Huxian the peasant painting movement spread across China and by 1989 there were 51 such communities. (See "The Best in Modern Chinese Folk Painting" Foreign Language Press, Beijing, 1989.) We first visited Huxian in 1991 while on an exchange program in Xian, and after meeting the painters and visiting their homes, we became intrigued by their paintings of rural life. Subsequently, we visited a number of other remote painting communities. Technique and talent varied among the communities, and in most, the style of painting could be traced back to embroidery that had been done there by local women for centuries. Some of the communities were the benefactors of training offered by fine artists who were forced to spend years in rural areas during the Cultural Revolution. When their coaching was absorbed and merged with naive local style, the result often was marvelous interpretations of country life. The paintings usually were idealized--happy workers, colorful clothing--but had great folk appeal. Unfortunately, after the paintings became more widely recognized, they were copied over and over, lost their verve and the copies were sold in tourist stores throughout China. We purchased this painting from its peasant creator in 1991. It is matted and in excellent condition. Dimensions (excluding mat): height 29" (74 cm), width 20" (51 cm).