|Carrying their rabbit god clay sculptures, the Lucky Rabbit Workshop staff arrive at Dongyue Temple in Beijing's Dongcheng district on Sept 8 to prepare for this year's Mid-Autumn Festival temple fair. (China Daily/Kuang Linhua)|
Though it was on the brink of dying out just a few decades ago, the tradition of sculpting icons for Mid-Autumn Festival is coming back, Kuang Linhua reports
In a small courtyard in eastern Beijing's Tongzhou district, Hu Pengfei guides several craftsmen in his workshop as they paint colors onto clay sculptures of the rabbit god, a traditional Beijing folk icon. This is a typical scene at the Lucky Rabbit Workshop every year before Mid-Autumn Festival. With a rabbit's head and a human's body, the rabbit god is local to the Chinese capital. It was a traditional folk custom logo of the festival in old Beijing.
Legend has it that there was an epidemic in the city long ago. The Moon Goddess sent her white rabbit to earth to treat the disease. People began to worship him after that, and the white rabbit is revered as the patron god of Beijing.
Hu Pengfei is the founder and head of the workshop. He said the process of making a clay rabbit figurine involves more than a dozen procedures and takes a whole week.
The craft is very complicated. The craftsmen must have a good sense of control as well as master sophisticated painting skills.
In the old days of Beijing, all the households would put rabbit god sculptures on their altars along with some fruit sacrifices offered to the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival. After that, the clay sculptures would be given to children as toys, Hu said.