There is also the thought that during the Victorian Era (1837-1901), which included the Opium war and Boxer Rebellion, prisoners were used to produce ceramic items for trade. It is stated that they were required to produce a quota per day and often did not have the water needed to meet that quota. They would pee into the clay to get the desired consistency, thus the brownish-red color of the clay.
This is what I can distinguish interwoven among the legends and thoughts. The mud man is used with religion in the Chinese culture. They are made of Kaolin or white Chinese clay, water, and a paste is added at times to get a whiteness of the body, which was desirable during the late Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty. Porcelain is a name used for all ceramics. Kaolin was used to make “petuntse” which is a pottery stone or brick from which figurines are carved.
Larger mud men, 20 “or taller, and mud women are the more valuable of the mud men items.
- Prior to 1890 there will be a stamp;
- 1890 - 1919 the words China or Hong Kong are impressed in the bottom rim
- 1920 – 1951 the words “made in” were added to the country
- 1952 - Present has stamps and a number
Grandma’s Attic has a wonderful example of a Chinese mud man figurine. The following are pictures of him. Notice the running paint. There is the mark “China” which dates him between 1890 and 1919. Most mud men are very detailed and this one is finely detailed with locks of hair, a beard, and comb. There are the desired fingerprints inside the cavity and his ears have holes. He is priced at $76.50. Come and check him out for an up close look at these fun antique figurines!