Articles  >  Imagine  >  Chinese Sugar Painting: Art From a Ladle

Chinese Sugar Painting: Art From a Ladle

Author: 23.01.2018 | art, China
Flowers and trees, animals and birds, dragons and fairytale characters – to put it short, anything that may come to your head can turn into an object of edible art there. Amazing technique of painting with hot sugar is possessed by craftsmen from Sichuan province. Paintings performed in almost caramel can be neither “edited”, nor painted over.

Amber-like transparent syrup instead of paints, a ladle and a spatula in the capacity of brushes and a marble surface that serves as canvas – such selection of “ingredients” is enough to create an atmosphere of a show that a confectionary masterpiece is born in. As soon as it sees the world, it cools down and hardens, therefore experience, confident moves, knowledge of laws of creation an image and a skilful hand of a master are very important in this matter.

Despite the fact that history of creating sugar masterpieces accounts for many centuries, nowadays development of the art is directly connected to market situation: a street vendor will turn into an artist in front of the eyes of public only if he sees that his work will be sold. Normally on the table on which a craftsman creates handmade miracles, there is an analog of well-known roulette: a circle, divided into segments, with a pointer. In each “quadrant” there is an image of an animal, an insect or a flower – prototypes of future masterpieces. A buyer and the audience hold their breaths to watch where the indicator stops its movement. Small snakes and butterflies provoke sighs among the audience while large golden dragons, whimsical phoenix birds and peacocks with splendid tails evoke enthusiasm and joyful exclamations. Paintings of planes, ships and cartoon characters are also warmly welcome. One or two Yuan – and a sweet handicraft item ends up in hands of a child. As a rule these works of art are consumed right after purchase. Tourists would be glad to take such a national souvenir home but its exceptionally delicate “shape” makes such a step quite challenging.


Usually art in the style of sugar painting comes to life during crowded fairs. It doesn’t take much for an artist to create paintings: kerosene burner on which he will make sugar syrup nearly boil, a small bronze or copper ladle, a spatula, marble table and wooden skewers. While stirring “sweet paint”, an author will try to keep a close eye on its temperature. Practicing craftsmen insist that it makes for 60% of success and 40% more lie in artistic implementation. If a degree is insufficient, ultimate product will resemble a chewing gum while excessive condition is fraught with black and bitter ending.

Copper spoon turns into brush and syrup – into paint for merely several minutes. Over this time butterflies and birds manage to fly from under a “plume” of an artist; flowers manage to blossom and even trees to grow. For a sweet piece to see the world its author will pour hot syrup from a metal spoon on a marble surface masterfully using technique of painting with a dribble.


Process of a painting “being born” from sugar differs from conventional picture art. Since sweet syrup hardens promptly when it cools down, one should paint very carefully, quickly and precisely. It is usually easier to deal with this task for painters who have sufficient practice in creating customary works – with a pencil or paint on paper.

For “lords of sweets” who one can come across in the streets of cities and villages of the province, it is important not only to sell a hand-made lollipop but also to demonstrate own expertise. Buyers, on the other hand, when they gather around a master, for instance, during festivities, do it not only expecting gastronomic pleasures. While confectioner artist works, they enjoy the atmosphere of a masterpiece being created. This is probably why sugar painting is also called art that brings people joy.


Tradition of making sugar art appeared due to the need to perform religious rituals. During rites numbers and twelve zodiac animals, made of solidified syrup, were parts of sacrifice – so some researchers believe, who looked into this line of Chinese art. With time popularity of painting grew and patterns became more diverse. Another opinion exists that there was a poet, who really liked to feast with brown sugar, and it was him who came up with exotic sweets.


Unfortunately, number of “sugar” masters in Sichuan province grows smaller and smaller therefore now they try to preserve such unique craft. State authorities recognized it as national intangible culture heritage and passionate enthusiasts hold workshops aimed at spreading culture of sweet painting and teaching this unique style!

It will be interesting:
The Spouse of the Ambassador of Georgia organized a meeting of the Ambassadors Spouses Club and the show of national clothes
The spouse of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Ukraine Irina Sultanishvili carried out a meeting of the Ambassadors Spouses Club, in the frame of which some traditional clothes was demonstrated.
Chinese infrastructure: unusual bridge that connects Macau and Hong Kong
When skeptics say that the greatest things have already been built by humanity, pointing at various and really outstanding works of engineering thought, they are most often poorly informed and hardly look beyond developed Western countries. In the meanwhile, for example, in China, the state raises simply unheard of infrastructure projects. We are going to tell today about one of them - the impressive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
Handicraft: persian rugs
In those days when the Persian soldiers were second to none, and both the Roman Empire and the Arabian Peninsula were conquered by their power, skilful fingers of winner nation craftswomen created their first masterpiece. The carpet called The Springtime passed into history as the most precious of all time. It symbolized powerful rule of the Persians, and its beauty told about the divine origin of the king Khosrow I.
Belgian Lace: Waltz of a Thousand Threads
At the sight of Flemish lacework it is hard to shake the feeling that miraculous flowers, artfully braided into a wreath of a pattern, were born from loose sparks that had escaped a magic wand. On the inside of the beauty there are efforts and days of jetsam girls, stolen from life by labyrinth of openwork loops. Having compelled self-will of the thread to a dream about heaven, promised for humility, skills defied despair and need – to secure victory.
Fashion Pioneers
Fashion is an act. Fashion is a demonstration of freedom. Not being afraid to once seem ridiculous and odd, a person risks to become a part of fashion industry. Some names it remembers, some are wrongly forgotten and for some it becomes a pursuit, the meaning of the whole life.
Play of Minsk Film Actor’s Studio Theater under support of Embassy of Belarus in the capital
In Kyiv academic theater of drama and comedy under support of Embassy of Belarus to Ukraine and Kyiv city governmental administration it was the play ‘Marriage contract’ of Minsk Film Actor’s Studio Theater. The performance was going in the frame of the tour in Ukraine.
Françoise Barbe-Gall teaches how to talk to children about art. She gives practical advices in her books, teaches to see things invisible to many people, to notice details and forget about labels. But we have to admit that among adults there are very few people who can boast with expertise in this area. If you want to change this order of things, today we offer you to go with us to the museums. Yes, it's a good idea, since we have chosen the best.
Murals: New Approach to Olden Art
Modern cities cannot be imagined without murals – large-scale in size works of picture art that decorate buildings. Not only we have gathered most outstanding works in our collection but also tried to learn as many interesting things as possible about this art movement.
You often got convinced that skilful hands of a master who puts life into his creation, can transform humble tree stump into a charming violin, piece of plaster becomes an ancient sculpture, and even clay tile looks like a work of fine art.
Dazzling flashes of ancient knowledge manifested in colourful shimmering beads and in elaborated yarn mosaics by Huichol Indians, captivate the imagination calling for an endless journey through branches of the world tree. Spiritual images take on flesh in intricate ornaments that accompany a Mexican peasant throughout his life. Twilight land of legends always have a shelter for a weary traveller: no one is alone on the paths of spirits.
Divine mugham: the music of Azerbaijan
There is music which brings us back to life. It happens even if the tears are falling when one listens to it. The musical genre mugham talks to the audience using the right language. Everyone has lived out unhappy love, loss of a close person or ruin of ideals. These topics became the source of inspiration for the musicians of Azerbaijan movement mugham. OUTLOOK will tell about this unique style of music.
Artaud theatre: life is imitation of art
The power of gestures burns the text to ashes, sound deafens and takes to the abyss from which all of us come and where we return upon the accomplishment of a short time period called as the life. Attending the Theatre of Cruelty, a human appears in the centre of performance as there are everything we are hiding from in the everyday routine, particularly, freedom and isolation, life on the border, merging with the crows till self is lost and lonely residing at the top. The drama of being involves in its mineral resources, the echo of tragedy overwhelms publics and spectator without noticing it appears in the trap of the own perception. That is about the so-called ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ (theatre de cruaute), the child of French playwright and director, eccentric and shocking Antonen Artaud.
Fado: gentleness and deftness of Portuguese romances
Twelve-string guitar, the twilight of Portuguese nights, candles, and soul-gripping voice… Dramatic incentives of fado song tell about unrequited love. It cannot appear in the crossroads of destinies; however, it enables feelings to embody into the touching sounds of Portuguese romances.
In Kyiv the Embassies of Lithuania and Australia demonstrated the photo exhibition ‘Olegas Truchanas – legend of Lithuania and Australia’
The Embassy of Lithuanian Republic to Ukraine, the Embassy of Australia to Ukraine and National Museum of Taras Shevchenko represented in Kyiv the photo exhibition ‘Olegas Truchanas – legend of Lithuania and Australia’.
History of a Brand: Cirque du Soleil
Spectacular show project Cirque du Soleil rocked the world of circus art to remind that circus can not only entertain but also create new reality. Crazy experiments on human body defy any power on gravity and miracle-plays of sound and light lure the audience into a twilight labyrinth of philosophical dramas letting them get to the sun together with characters of stagings.
Not just black
November 3, 2008, at the auction Sotheby's with a result of $ 60 million was sold one of the rarest works in the history of Russian art - Kazimir Malevich's Suprematist Composition. Malevich is still considered to be one of the most difficult to understand artists of the 20th century.Kazimir Malevich is still one of the most difficult to understand artists of the 20th century. As if mocking at the public, he signed some of his early works: The content of the paintings unknown to the author. OUTLOOK collected stories connected with personality, creativity, and the name of the artist and hopes that it will bring readers to understand the suprematist.
The Sistine Chapel Illusions
More than fifteen hundred years ago Romans were awe struck when they caught the very first sight of the Sistine Chapel. After that masters of painting were born and dead as well as whole pictural art styles. And contemporaries of you and me gape on the distinguished temple. However, while admiring another line intricacy and allusive painting theme, bear in mind that beneath the plot of glossy surface, as per usual, stand painfully familiar disputes with an impatient client, unpleasant surprises from nature and damaged health of painters-executants.
Mandala Therapy
Yesterday I created a Universe. I took some peas, rice, buckwheat, millet, black and white pepper seeds and cardamom. Grabbed a handful of coffee and aniseeds. Then it all acquired a centre. It kept growing and calming my thoughts. When the last seed landed in the circle, I felt forgotten harmony again, heard birds singing through the noise of cars on the avenue, sensed fragrance of violets that a neighbor of mine was growing on her balcony and a recollection of Funtik from floor 5 and his tail evoked a flush of tenderness towards the shaggy monster.
On the 26-th of October it will be going a desirable premier of documental and biographic movie ‘Dancer’ on the price of success paid by the artist of ballet Serhii Polunin. Being originated from Kherson, he accidentally appeared in the Royal Theater in London where he became an overnight success but then went off the grid to get even more love of the spectators. Today OUTLOOK continues the cycle of materials about successful Ukrainians.
Eastern music of Sufi: Qawali
‘Love evolves when one looks in the eyes of the person beloved seeing there God’, in such a way the lines of some Arabian song called Qawali is translated. The authorship of this chant is ascribed to Eastern strangers Sufi who tending to find the sense of existence strolled around the half an Earth bare-footed. In the travels they composed songs where they told narration describing what they had to endure.
Outlook facebook page