Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum-Huangping Clay Whistle

Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum

Huangping Clay Whistle

by Live in Guizhou

Image Source: Eyesnews

Huangping clay whistles are a popular Miao folk toy in Huangping, southeastern Guizhou, innovatively developed by Miao clay sculptor Wu Guoqing based on traditional clay and terracotta figurines. These small, colorful clay toys can produce crisp and pleasant sounds. The Huangping clay whistle has a history of nearly a hundred years and is one of Guizhou’s famous folk crafts.

The raw material for Huangping clay whistles is fine clay from local fields, which is kneaded and pounded to increase its toughness and smoothness. When shaping, artisans apply a bit of vegetable oil on their hands to prevent sticking and to achieve a smoother surface on the sculptures. Two holes are left in each whistle: one for blowing and one for air release. The air hole is usually at the tail end of the whistle, with the two holes forming an angle of about 45°-65°. The size of the holes depends on the size of the whistle, with smaller whistles having a blowing hole diameter of about 2 millimeters for a sharp sound, and larger whistles about 3-4 millimeters for a loud, rounded sound. To facilitate blowing, most clay whistles stand on three legs, with two in front and one in the back, and the blowing hole is usually on the rear leg, a distinctive feature of the Huangping clay whistle style.

Huangping clay whistle creations are simple and unpretentious, focusing more on spirit than form, lively and full of childlike fun. The colors are thickly applied, bright and vivid, with unique decorations similar to the local Miao costumes, closely related to the aesthetic tastes of the local Miao people, and feature a rich ethnic character.