Festival goers will have the opportunity to see traditional Chinese crafts such as sugar painting and dough figurine making in action at this year’s Christchurch Lantern Festival.
Toffee Maker (sugar painter) from Hangzhou
The traditional Chinese art of painting with caramelised sugar became popular in China centuries ago. Back in the Ming dynasty, skilled street artists used moulds to shape the hot sugar mixture in differing designs. Over time, these were replaced with a small bronze spoon which the artist uses to pour the hot sugar onto a cold surface like marble. Because the sugar cools down very quickly, the painter must work quickly and get the design right the first time. Once completed, a wooden stick is sunk into the artwork to separate it from the marble slab and create a lollipop. Popular designs include the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac – 2018 being the Year of the Dog.
Dough figurine maker from Hangzhou
For centuries, China’s dough figurine craftsmen have delighted children and adults with their tiny models of legendary heroes such as the Monkey King from Journey to the West. Dough modelling is classified as a folk art, but the artist still needs to be well versed in history and culture to get all the details right. The main raw materials in dough figurines are wheat and glutinous rice flour. The skills required are often passed down within a family. In the past, dough modellers were itinerant craftsmen, carrying the tools of their trade in a work box on their back, going from street to street to make a living. This ancient handicraft dates from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), when dough was modelled into fruits and animals for sacrifice to deities and ancestors.
The Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury is part of the global CI network jointly established by Hanban (Beijing), the University of Canterbury (Christchurch) and Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Wuhan).It was officially launched by the Chinese Vice-Premier, Li Keqiang, on 1 November 2009, the second Confucius Institute to be established in New Zealand and the first in the South Island. As Vice-Premier Li Keqiang noted, it is another achievement in the cultural and educational exchange between China and New Zealand.
The institute will have hand written calligraphy name and messages available throughout the festival, along with games, dancers and hand painted plates.