Linyi City in Shandong Province has a long history and is one of the important birthplaces of Chinese civilization. Its culture is treasured home and abroad. One of its intangible cultural heritages is Feixian Clay Sculpture.
The clay sculptures in Feixian County integrate clay sculptures with oil paintings, comics and other forms of art. They are well-known for the exaggerated body expressions like comic figures, presenting honest, cheerful, simple, and interesting personalities in real life. Such local culture has become a name card of Feixian.
The art of Feixian Clay Sculpture is originated in Yanmazhuang of Chengbei Town around the time of Yongle Emperor in the Ming Dynasty. Behind the sculptures are popular folk themes like “Linyi Mountain Babies”, “Linyi Daman”, “Linyi Folk Customs” as well as “Buddha Statues and Divine Generals”. There is also the collection of representative clay art based on seasonal folk activities with “Pancakes”, “Dried Melons”, “Crops Crushing” and “Grinding”.
The production of Feixian clay sculptures is generally divided into five steps: designing by drawings, clay-mixing, hand-kneading, carving plus refinement, and kilning. Designing is normally to do with very personalized patterns. The soil needs to be sticky and fine. After kneading, cotton, paper, or honey is sometimes added to the soil. Then the outline is made based on the designed drawing. The clay carving technique is very minutely done. A hole is left in the tires in the end to allow air to circulate inside and out to prevent air pressure change which might damage the mud tires. The last procedure is to put the carved clay into the kiln to be burned up to 1200 degrees Celsius.
Feixian clay sculpures enjoy lovely appearances, unique styles, and local characteristics. With their strong artistic flavor, they are indeed loved by both children and adults.