Dough flowers can be both a sculpture and a delicacy, blooming even in severe winter. The art of dough flower modeling is prevalent in northern China and closely related to the diets and customs of the local people.
In ancient China, people modeled dough into shapes of animals and flowers to worship their ancestors and gods. Later, dough sculptures became more varied and developed. Gradually, they played a more important role in traditional Chinese festivals, weddings, funerals, and other occasions.
The sculptures can be as heavy as three kilograms or as small as three inches, and their design is relevant to people's daily lives.
Making dough sculptures in pomegranate, lotus, peach, and other festive shapes is a custom during Spring Festival in many regions. (Dingxiang Dough Modeling)
Sometimes dough is sculpted into different characters of Peking Opera, like Sheng (male lead), Dan (female lead), Jing (male with painted face), and Chou (male clown).
The tools for dough flower modeling come from daily life, too. Awls, combs, and other utensils can be used to press out points and lines in the dough, creating exquisite designs.
As local customs differ across regions, dough modeling also bears regional characteristics.
For example, the Huangling style features complex craftsmanship and exquisite production, the Xinjiang style is simple and elegant, freaturing freehand sketches, while the Langzhuang style maintains a strong local flavor.
Folk artists in northern China depict the hometown and life they love with a pair of skillful hands.