Plan your Beijing tours? It is advisable to visit and explore the local handicrafts for better understanding Beijing. Beijing folk arts and handicrafts have been in decline for years. Some genres of traditional handicrafts are close to extinction.
Traditional artworks has always been China’s unique national industry. Traditional folks arts are both useful and decorative devices completely made by hand or by using only simple tools. Today let’s look at the top 10 Beijing handicrafts, the richly craftsmanship tradition tracing back the past with peaceful hearts in this restless world.
1. Peking Opera Mask
Peking Opera Masks or Beijing Opera Faces or Lian Pu mean the types of facial make-up or face-painting.
In Beijing Opera, different types of facial paintings express different significance – Red facial painting for loyalty, black facial make-up for uprightness, yellow face for homicidal and tyrannical, blue and green face-painting for a forthright and testy temper and white “face” for the treacherous and evil men.
The craft of making traditional opera masks is unique to Beijing China. It can be traced back to the 12th century when the first mask appeared in a Song dynasty opera. A few strokes of the brush and every color turns a piece of plaster into a Peking opera mask.
2. Clay figurines and animals
Clay figurine is a type of traditional Chinese folk art. It blends sculpting and painting to make a clay figurine. This method is traced back to the Shang Dynasty more than 3,500 years ago, when craftsmen used simple and cheap materials to make small and delicate clay figurines. Nowadays, the handicraft has developed into a kind of folk art appreciated by people from around the world.
Clay Figure Zhang is most well known of all Clay figurine making circle. It is made of ripe clay which is pure puddle with little sand through the process of weathering, slurring, and filtration, evaporating.
The side materials include wood, vine, lead, paper, flowers and so on. After completely drying, the clay figure is put into stove for firing. The temperature is up to 700 degree Celsius or so. After coming out of stove, the clay figure is polished and painted. It takes about 30 days or so to finish a piece of work.
Paper-cutting is one of the most popular handicrafts in Beijing. It in an art of paper, scissors and hands. They depicted ancient Chinese generals and beautiful women, Peking opera characters and facial masks, Chinese zodiac animals, and so on. There is a wider variety of paper cutting patterns available than you can imagine.
Chinese paper cutting is a unique art form and has existed for a long history.
Because of its unique style, paper-cutting is popular among Chinese people and foreigners as well. The art of paper-cutting was listed in the first group of national non-material cultural heritage approved by the Chinese State Council in 2006, and it was listed as a world non-material cultural heritage by UNESCO in the same year.
Kites can be used as ornaments and toys. One of China’s favorite past times is flying kites, especially in Beijing where there is usually plenty of wind around to send them soaring into the sky. Available in many art and craft stores, kites are among the best Chinese presents to friends back home.
Kite making is a traditional Chinese folk handicraft. The best kites are said to be made in Tianjin, Beijing and Weifang. Beijing kites are made of paper or silk and completely hand-painted.
They have a strong market reputation both at home and abroad. The most experienced kite craftsman in Beijing, Fei Baolin, has developed several hundred kinds of kites in different shapes and sizes. The smallest can fit in the palm of one’s hand.
5. Zongren (bristle dolls)
The making of Figurines of drama characters (bristle dolls) made of the hair of a pig or a horse, cloth and silk, has been listed as a city-level intangible cultural heritage in Beijing.
Check out Mr.Ba Dacheng – Folk Artist for more information.
Zongren Bai is the nickname of Mr.Dacheng Bai, a local folk craftsman, famous for making”Zongren Bai”(bristle dolls), and his products – “Zongren Bai”, a kind the figurines of drama characters made of the hair of a pig or a horse, cloth and silk, listed as a city-level intangible cultural heritage in Beijing.
Putting the figurines on a copper gong, then beating the gong with a wood stick, you know what has happened? All the figurines are dancing! That’s how performance of bristle dolls earns its name, “show on a plate”.
6. Beijing Dough Figure
Dough modeling is another traditional folk art handed down from ancient times. Kneaded in half-cooked glutinous rice flour, dough figures, flowers and birds are popular small toys and exhibits in Beijing.
The dough toy is made of flour and sweet rice flour, and has high artistic value. With a small bamboo knife, the artist can make dough shaped as people and animals in a short time. Among these figures are beautiful princesses, adorable children and various historical people.
7. Red Lanterns
Lanterns, the traditional folk handicrafts, are still popular all over Beijing and other parts of the country. And the art of lanterns, as the precious traditional culture of Chinese, is also inherited and continues among folks.
Lanterns play an important role in Chinese long history and symbolize the brilliant culture of China.
8. Shadow Puppet
Shadow puppet play is a traditional form of storytelling and entertainment by using opaque, often articulated figures in front of an illuminated backdrop to make the illusion of moving images. It is popular in various cultures. At present, more than 20 countries are known to have shadow show troupes.
It belongs to puppet play as well as a kind of handicrafts. Its material include skin of donkey, horse and mule. After choosing material,carving, coloring, sewing,painting etc,then a puppet is finished.
Pinwheel is a simple children’s toy. Pinwheels are made to spin when blown upon by a person or by the wind. In China they’re also part of the intangible cultural heritage of the nation.
Produced and used for over a thousand years, pinwheels have long been a must at the annual Spring Festival in Beijing China and sold at temple fairs.
10. Silhouette Paper Cut
Making silhouette is a kind of clip art. Making an outline of someone that is suitable for framing or making into a special picture. Silhouette artists Beijing, do instant portraits, using just paper and scissors, simply by looking at the subject. Her beautiful, mounted silhouettes make great souvenirs for you.
Tip: Hassle-free Beijing Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Beijing guided tours:
Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites
Any questions, just drop a line.