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Huishan Clay Figurine – Painted Sculptures

Mar 6, 2009

With a 5000 years long history and a 9,600,000 square km territory, no wonder China has magnificent culture diversity.  Thousands of different types of folk art have thrived and enlightened the country for centuries. Starting today, ChinaBlog.cc will present a series of posts about the colorful folk arts around China.

Huishan Clay Figurine – Painted Sculpture

Huishan Clay Figurine made in Wuxi is one of the best-known folk arts in China. And it is also one of the four representative schools of clay figurines in China. It has a history of more than 400 years. The little clay figurines are not only colorful and cute, but also full of cultural connotations in them.

Huishan clay figurines can be categorized into two different types:

Coarse and Fine

Coarse figurines are made from moulds and produced in large numbers. They are good as toys for kids. “Da A Fu” is probably the most famous figure, which usually appears as a plump boy/girl holding a green lion or a fish, symbolizing for prosperity and luck.  Another popular theme is “Lao Shou Xing” or the Old Man of Longevity.

Fine figurines are made by hand. They are more delicate, creative and vivid, having a variety of characters that are largely based on traditional Chinese operas and the rich Chinese culture.

To view more pictures, examples and other information, you can visit the official Huishan Clay Figurines website here.

Current condition

Like many other traditional folk art in China, how to survive in modern society is a big question, especially when western culture is prevailing in China. Not many people are interested in this fascinating folk art, not to mention the number of young people willing to learn it.

To preserve this great traditional art, the government has spent lots of efforts and resources, expecting one day people can rediscover the value (both cultural and commercial) of these clay figurines.

Video introduction

Here is a video in Chinese showing some recordings how Huishan figurines are made and the efforts made to preserve the folk art.



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  1. February 1st, 2011 at 16:01 | #1

    Can these figurines be purchased in the USA?

  2. February 1st, 2011 at 16:19 | #2

    well, sounds like you can start the business ;D

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