In China, Clay figurines is very famous because of Ni Ren Zhang, it is the standard of China clay figurines. How much do you know about it, now let me introduce it. Ni Ren Zhang’s Painted Clay Figurines with a history of over 140 years are well-known folk handicraft articles in Tianjin. Chinese and foreign people has treasured them. As the art’s originator, Mr. Zhang Mingshan was very skillful and quick in making clay figurines- His impromptu figurines were so life-like that people began to call him “Ni Ren Zhang” – Clay Figurine Zhang in his honor. Ni Ren Zhang’s art comes down in one continuous line. And each successor has his own artistic style and masterpieces, one of which “Zhong Kui Marries off his Sister” won a gold medal at an international fair. Visitors could buy various figures here and enjoy the traditional arts in Tianjin.
Something about Zhang
Zhang Yuting, son of Zhang Mingshan, inherited his father’s three unique techniques and made breakthroughs in terms of art. His works were not only realistic but also full of imaginations, presenting efforts of five generations of artists from the Zhang family. The Nirenzhang Clay Sculpture has become a splendid art. It is not only an important cultural speciality of Tianjin but also a gem stone in China’s cultural garden.
The Four Stamps
The four stamps are based on the works of three generations of masters of “clay figurine hang”. They are “Two Hehe Gods” by Zhang Mingshan, “Candy-blowing Man” and “Returning after Fishing” by Zhang Yuting and “Xichun Drawing a Picture” by Zhang Jinggu.
The stamps depict the exquisite workmanship and unique artistic features of the painted sculpture of “clay figurine Zhang” from several different angles. They include elegant god with an easy grace, in tensely alive and life-like artists in the streets; the “Returning, after Fishing” is handsome, quietly elegant and full of wit; the pretty, gentle and cultivated lady is an exclusive of the Zhang. All these demonstrate that the “clay figurine Zhang” painted sculptures are unique and have a wide range of subjects, that the clay figurine artists pay more attention to the vivid portrayal of details in creating their clay figurines and not over-elaborate the nitty-gritty details, and that they also lay stress upon similarity with a vivid touch.
How to Make It
Nirenzhang clay sculpture 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 Nirenzhang clay sculpture 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. Nirenzhang clay sculpture 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 Nirenzhang clay sculpture.
The Nirenzhang clay sculpture 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, Nirenzhang clay sculpture was listed as first grade national legacy of China.