Chinese Art Of Nut Carving (In A Nutshell)

Nut carvings are a kind of folk art only found in China. Nut carvings are exquisitely carved from peach pits, almonds, olive pits, and hickory nuts. People honor the skills of the nut sculpture as a miracle because it is difficult to carve on a tiny nut. Foreign collectors greatly treasure the nut sculptures and go to great efforts to obtain such pieces.


In a broad sense, nut sculpture skills are similar to miniature sculpture techniques. Limited by the small sizes of the nuts, the sculptures are generally relief carvings and tri-dimensional carving that greatly depend on the shape, grains, and textures of the nuts. When carving nuts, craftsmen present their skills and carefully design the sculptures according to the different materials. When carved, the hard texture nuts tinkle and, if carefully carved, they should be smooth and bright. If the nut sculpture is held in the hands for a long time, it will shine.

Carving the olive pit is especially demanding for craftsmen to perform their skills by following the natural shape of nut. For example, by making full use of the slightly bent olive nut, craftsmen can sculpt the body of the God of Longevity into the gesture of a slightly crookbacked, exaggerated to give prominence to the broad and bare forehead and the graceful eyebrow and beard of this god, who takes a dragon head crutch in his left hand and holds up a birthday peach in his right hand. The entire olive nut sculpture vividly presents an image of an amiable old man with a smile.