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Mud Cuckoo: Traditional China XunXian Clay Sculpture
Mud Cuckoo, in Chinese we call it “Ni Gugu”, is a traditional little clay sculpture in Xunxian. It is also a little toy. It has gained its name from its two main characters. Firstly, it is made of clay. Secondly, it is a kind of whistle. People can produce hundreds of different sounds by blowing it. According to Tzu Chih T`ung Chien, the peasant uprising army in the last years of the Sui Dynasty fought against Sui troops on ancient LiYan city, also known as XunXian now. Durintg that great war, many officers and soldiers died. Some clever and skillful handymen used yellow clay to make some little clay figurine and clay horses to express their missing and sadness. This technique has come down from time immemorial. This is also the original source of Mud Cuckoo.
The following picture is about monkey. The left monkey who puts a hand over its mouth is aimed at telling us never to say something you should not say. The middle one who covers its eyes with two hands is aimed at telling us that never to see something you should not see. The right one covers his ears in order to tell us do not listen to some words we should not listen. We call these three monkeys “Three Nos Monkeys”.
TChinese Clay Figure Xunxian Mud Cuckoo Production Methods
There are four main production methods for Chinese Clay Figures – Xunxian Mud Cuckoo.
The first one is Mould Making, such as flat head lion, smart swallows, servant girl, etc. The second one is hand-kneading, such as little horse, little monkey and PIG KING. The third one is combination of Mould Making and Hand-kneading, such as hardboot. The last one is to add steel wire and spring to the clay figures, such as live head lion and live head horse. The pug and tools that makers use are very simple. The pug is taken from their own village. Then made into mud by mixing with water. The clay tool is a bamboo pole which is used to carve and paint the nose, mouth, eyes and patterns of the clay figures. Then make some holes in different parts of the clay figures so that the clay figure can make different sounds when people pipe.
 
 
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