Dough Figures: Liang Xiucai

Pen drawing of an artist's studio

Liang Xiucai and his wife live a life deeply rooted in their heritage. They are artists who make dough figures, which they sell as toys at the market. Dough figures have a long history in this village but now are only made by these two skilled artists. The delicate and colorful figures they create represent virtues that are significant in Chinese culture and Lang village history. There are over 2,000 different shapes, each with corresponding symbolism and meaning.

Liang XiucaiLiang Xiucai learned the craft from his uncle and now teaches it to his wife and children. He says he is not modest about the quality of their craftsmanship because he must sell this work. It is their livelihood.

These resourceful artists work from their home, where they knead, roll, and shape the dough. Each dough figure must undergo an elaborate process featuring several stages of steaming, painting, and drying before a finished piece is ready for sale. While these dough figures were once used to fend off wild wolves, they are now generally sold as toys for children and they are often crafted to represent characters from novels, the opera, and fairy tales. Visit the Artist at Work section to learn more about the process involved in making these dough figures, and learn more about the symbolism and history behind these figures by visiting the Cultural Heritage section.