Mud heads were used
by Chinese figurine makers in constructing characters from Chinese Mythology
and folklore. It often was the only product they made.
Considering there are a great many characters, each with its own facial characteristics, the diversity of these heads was considerable. The figurines
in turn were assembled at studios catering to Chinese paper shops, who supplied them to temples or devotees for use at religious festivals or funerals.
In most instances they were burned as offerings during such events. The heads in the collection were made by studios in China before the Cultural Revolution.
Other studios created different types of cloth, tinsel or paper items, whilst finally one studio put all the individual items together to form the figurines.
Demand for these items was brisk assuring these studios a decent living.
Paper masks were used in the construction of effigies of gods or mythological character. These effigies varied in size as well as quality. Some were of simple paper pasted over a bamboo frame, without too much ado about the quality. In some cases more elaborate effigies were made with specialist studios making component parts. Masks is such a subject. In the collection are mud heads of various sizes and also, what we are dealing with here, paper masks. There are two main types of examples. The simple plain masks and the more elaborate examples. The latter especially are quite uncommon and were used at special events, as we have already alluded to, the yearly exhibition of the Paper shop trade.