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Popular Chinese Folk Toys


As an indispensable part of traditional folk art, toys are a unique expression of the long and uninterrupted Chinese history. Compared with other artistic works such as jade or silver wares, toys are easier to make and more widely available to the majority of people. To make toys, people tend to utilize common articles that are readily available, such as cloth, grass, straw, clay, paper and so on. Even so, it should be noted that these toys are not of a coarse manufacture, but of rustic simplicity and vivacity. Generally, the diverse variety of folk toys can act as decorations to be appreciated or as knickknacks to be played with. Here are three kinds of traditional Chinese toys that enjoy great popularity throughout the world.

Cloth Tiger

The Cloth Tiger, which had been very popular in the ancient times of China, is a cloth-made toy. It is a folk handicraft with strong local color due to its varieties and popularity.

There are no uniform patterns for the cloth tiger and the clever women have created different shaped cloth tigers with different materials and their aesthetic standards. These cloth tigers are wrapped with yellow cloth, sewed by hand, and exaggerated with the original shape of the tiger by shrinking its body and tail and simplifying its lambs. This image blends the real tiger with the idealized tiger in the imagination, and it is endowed with human characteristics and emotion. Therefore, it looks very cute and charmingly naive. Most of these artworks are made by country women; they are the crystal of wisdom and diligence of the folk artists.

The Hairy Monkey

The Hairy Monkey was probably invented in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty. The most common Hairy Money sculptures feature dancing or posturing monkeys, with Magnolia buds used for making its body, cicada torso used for the limbs, and cicada antennae used for the tail.


Sounds can increase the amusement of toys. The main euphonious toys in China are whistles. The whistle is a traditional Chinese folk toy made of porcelain or pottery. This sounding toy not only provides a visual sense of beauty to children, but also excites them with high-pitched sounds. Common whistles include porcelain bird whistles and dog whistles as well as pottery beast head whistles and double-tone whistles.

A bird whistle is shaped like a bird and a dog whistle like a dog. The main features of these two types are the cylindrical tail, a hole at the tail tip and a big round hole on the left top. If you inject water into the whistle from the hole at the top and gently blow the whistle, it will give a sweet sound similar to bird warbling. A double-tone whistle has a sound hole on both the left and right sides. It gives out double tones when blown and the tones are louder and more pleasant than those of ordinary whistles.

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