|Number of Sessions
Magic at your Fingertips（Free Admission）
2023/02/17 09:00 ~ 2024/02/25 18:00
|Gate of Great Piety Hall, East Side Display Window
The History of Dough Figurines
There are many legends about the origin of the art of dough figurines. One is about the flour-made “worshipping cake” used as the sacrifice in Han Dynasty. Another is the legend of “Zhuge Kongming’s River Sacrifice.” Kongming used flour to make the sacrifices in the shape of human heads, “mantou”, to pray for safety. In the Song and Yuan Dynasty, dough figurines evolved into the decorations on the “appreciation tables” at the parties of wealthy merchants and tycoons. At the end of the Min Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, dough figurines became the crafts for the public to enjoy in daily life. They were often seen in the form of busking at temple fairs and markets.
Today, there are no more “appreciation tables” of the ancient parties, but those of the worshipping rituals have been preserved. At the Zhongyuan Festival, the dough crafts such as “appreciation fruit,” “appreciation dishes,” and “appreciation sacrifices” can be seen on the “appreciation tables.” In Taiwan, they are commonly called “flour figurines,” “glutinous rice flour figurines,” or “mochi figurines.” The art of dough figurines is loved by children and adults alike. Just like magic, the craftsmen turn ordinary materials, such as flour and glutinous rice flour, into all kinds of vivid styles with their fingertips. They are always the most eye-catching highlights at temple fairs and markets.
The Art of Dough Figurines
The art of dough figurines adopts flour and glutinous rice flour as the main materials and pigments, wax, and honey as the side materials. The traditional subjects include religious figures, exotic animals, and fairy tales. Through the ten skills such as “rubbing, pinching, pressing, dotting, fixing, covering, kneading, picking, cutting, and pulling” and the core concepts of “first printing, second kneading, third mounting, fourth rolling,” the craftsmen fast and precisely create the colorful and vivid dough crafts. The creators are generally called “dough figurine makers” or “river rice figurine makers.”
There are various ingredients and methods of dough making. They are different according to the creative schools, seasons, styles, functions, and making processes. The dough can be generally separated into two ways, “mixed-color sculpture” and “painted-color sculpture,” and further divided according to the skills into mini sculpture, huge sculpture, relief, duck eggs, vegetable sculpture, and dough painting.
There are the problems such as cracks, mold, and moisture for the preservation of the dough works. With the progress of technology, the materials have also been renovated. Today the dough is moisture-proof, insect-proof, mold-proof, and stronger, so the works can be preserved for a longer time.
“Wu Family Dough Figurine Hall” is the only local cultural center featuring dough figurines guided by Ministry of Culture. It has been managed by the three generations of the Wu family, who have cultivated the art of dough figurines for over half century. The first generation, Wu Qi-jun, is famous for making dough crafts of “appreciation tables.” The dough figurines of vegetables, fruit, birds, and animals are vivid. His sacrifices of “appreciation tables” can be seen at temple fairs and rituals. The second generation, Wu Jun-de and his wife, Liang Xiu-zhen, inherits the father’s skills and further makes innovative styles and improves the materials, promoting the art of dough figurines by collaborating with the communities and cultural units. Now the third generation also engages in the heritage of dough figurines. The three generations of the family embrace the culture of dough figurines and dedicate themselves to promoting the precious folk art that is disappearing.
Wu Family Dough Figurine Hall
"The Marvelous World of Molded Dough Figurines", Yang Wen-yuan, tr. by Peter Eberly, January 1990, Taiwan Panorama