Clay Figure Zhang
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Clay Figure Zhang (simplified Chinese: 泥人张; traditional Chinese: 泥人張) is a famous folk art in Tianjin, China's second biggest city. It was initiated by Zhang Mingshan (1826-1906), a folk artist of Tianjin, during Daoguang period in Qing Dynasty (1821-1851). Up until now, Clay Figure Zhang has four generations and nearly 180 years of history.
Clay Figure Zhang is made of ripe clay which is pure puddle with little sand through the process of weathering, slurrying, filtrating, evaporating and adding cotton to rub up. It has the characteristics of viscosity. 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.
The images of Clay Figure Zhang vary from palace maids in costume, historic figures, religious figures, and modern figures to local customs. It is usually displayed indoor, on the shelf for example, because of its small size (usually 20 cm high). Therefore it is also called shelf sculpture. Clay Figure Zhang has vivid realistic characteristics, and can portray the figures' personality and posture, pursue dissection structure, reasonable exaggeration, suitable acceptance and rejection, special applying to give attention to both shape and spirit and have great originality. Several Chinese authors and artists, including Guo Moruo, Zhao Puchu, and Wu Zuoren, have collected Clay Figure Zhang.
The Clay Figure Zhang Workshop, established in 1958, is engaged in the research of painted sculpture. It has 46 staff members, 5 creation rooms and 3 shops. Many of its art works have been awarded and are collected by domestic and abroad Art Gallery. In 2006, Clay Figure Zhang was listed as first grade national legacy of China.