Chengdu Travel Diary | Jinli-08


This gentleman is painting with sugar, a traditional Chinese art that is simply call sugar painting in Chinese.  The painting can range from very simple to very complicated but most of these vendors at these tourist spots will stick with the simpler but popular Chinese lucky symbols, such as the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.

To see what object he will paints for you, you have to first spin the wheel-of-fortune (I call it that, since I don’t have a good translation for it).  Naturally, everybody wants to go for the hardest or the biggest to paint.  Hey, people want to get their money’s worth right?  Nothing’s wrong with that :)

 The Wheel To The Prize

This is the wheel-of-fortune I was talking about.  It will decide what kind of sugar painting you will get.  It’s 5 yuan per turn (soooo cheap!!), candy included.  The Chinese writing below the the price says “half turn does not count”, so everybody will have to really spin the wheel, no cheating allow :) Of course, if you are a pretty lady, you have a very good chance to have him paints you whatever you want.  Too bad I am not even a lady . . . Not that I am complaining . . . But I really want that dragon!!

Drawing With Sugar

 So basically, he melts the sugar and start drawing on a stone plate with a small spoon while the sugar is still hot and in liquid form.  The sugar consist of a mix of different type of sugars, recipe is family secret, thus not reveal, of course, so typical of the Chinese :)  The drawing part is really hard to do because he has to be fast and accurate, and of course, he has to know how to draw as well.  Wow, talk about hand eye coordination!

Most sugar painting master in these tourist spots in Chengdu will only draws simpler items, this gentleman here is no exception.  I got a Chinese Broad Sword from him.  Did I mention I want the dragon?

The whole process of painting with sugar is very brief.  He must completes the whole drawing in one try and before the hot sugar gets cold.  He only got one chance at this, if anything goes wrong in between, the whole painting is ruin and he will have to start over.  However, even though the painting is ruin, the sugar is still good for eating.  Hmmm . . . I wonder what they do with those sugar?  Deep thought . . . .

Focus focus, even though there are a lot of people around me, a lot of people taking my picture, but I must focus, I must hold my laugh, focus focus . . .

As soon as the warm sugar cools down, you can pick the whole thing up and hold it in your hand, how cool is that?  Once you are done admiring the painting, you can start eating it.  Seriously, you can really eat this, it’s totally safe, I am not kidding.

I have a hard time eating it because it is so pretty and the guy put in so much work on it.  While I am still admiring, my wife came over, without warning, snap it in half, and starts chowing down this used-to-be amazing sugar art a moment ago.  What a heart breaking moment!  Oh well, what’s done is done, so I join in.  They actually tasted pretty good, yum…

The master is tired.  Can’t blame him, after working whole day, it’s time to stretch and relax.  I wonder how many sugar painting he has to draw in a day.  Drawing these painting must be high stress and bad for health.  He can’t even relax when he is taking a breather, tourist see this as a great Kodak moment and snap away.  I wonder how many times his photo is being taken in a day, must be countless.  Obviously, I am guilty of this as well . . . This is a hard job, poor guy.

/Lumaca Moderno

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