Yao Xiaojing is making a clay figurine.[Photo provided to China Daily]
Yao Xiaojing, a master craftswoman, introduced Clay Figurine Zhang during an activity held by a Beijing-based association to promote the development of cultural heritage in the city on March 20. Clay Figurine Zhang was created by Zhang Mingshan who lived in Tianjin during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The quick-witted and nimble-fingered man observed people from all walks of life in the streets, and made vivid and lifelike clay figurines.
In 1905, a third-generation member of Zhang's family was invited by late premier Zhou Enlai to promote the craft in Beijing, and a branch of the craft was established in the city.
Yao is a student of a fourth-generation inheritor in making the Zhang style of clay figurines and an expert in the Beijing school of this craft.
"Some people say the only difference between works of Zhang and real people is that the clay figurines cannot breathe, showing how vivid the works are," says Yao.
At the Beijing event, Yao discussed the development of cultural heritage and encouraged integrating modern elements into traditional art. "We must keep pace with the times, so that the crafts survive in the modern world. Ordinary people also have more access to such handicraft today. The experts have opened studios that enable people to learn these crafts. Although many people just learn the crafts for fun, they are really excited during the process," says Yao.
(Source: China Daily)