A Chinese Handling box for Temple Newsam House, Leeds

Lion puppet, Cloisonne vase, baby carrier and beadwork bag

On this and the following pages are examples of what is in the Chinese handling box. If you would like your school or a community group to use the box during a visit to Temple Newsam House please contact: Vanessa Schrompf email vanessa.schrompf@leeds.gov.uk or telephone 0113 390 1082


Nodding lion head on a gold stand, a model of lion dance costume worn by dancers at Chinese New Year.

Use: Ornament

Background: The lion dance is a traditional Chinese dance usually performed by two dancers, one as the front legs and one as the back legs of the beast. The dancers prance and leap about, making the head of the costume shake and its eyes and mouth open and close in time to accompaniment from gongs, drums and firecrackers.

There are two styles of lion dance, the Northern and the Southern. This puppet is likely to be of the Southern lion dance style, because of its white beard and the horn in middle of its head. The dance is popular at Chinese New Year (see Object C20 Dragon Puppet for more on New Year)


Cloisonne (ornamental enamel) vase pendant on red thread with a thousand year knot at top.

Use: This pendant might be hung over a door in the home, or in the car. A symbol of long life, the thousand year knot was particularly popular at the turn of the millennium.

Background: The wish to live a long life is still very important in Chinese culture today. Taoism, one of the three major Chinese religions/philosophies (the other two are Confucianism and Buddhism), has a particular emphasis on immortality.


A traditional baby carrier, made from a square of cloth with long ribbons attached at each corner. The square cloth is decorated with triangles of different coloured materials.

Use: Traditional sling for carrying babies. The baby would be held on the mother’s back, with the square cloth covering the baby’s back. The ribbons are then tied in a bow at the mother’s chest. This allows the mother to have her hands free for tasks, while the baby feels safe and close to its mother.

Background: The triangles of cloth symbolise long life. Traditionally, the person making the carrier would ask the elders of the village to each donate a piece of cloth. The pieces were folded into small triangles and sewn on to the back of the baby carrier. It was believed that the combined ages of all the elders who had donated the cloth would be how long the new baby would live!

This baby carrier was made by Mrs Kwan, one of the women in the Chinese Elderly Women’s Group project.


Decorated beadwork bag - a triangular bag with a front opening, decorated with beadwork and sequins in flower and leaf patterns.

Use: This bag might be used for jewellery, or as a handbag for special occasions.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Temple Newsam House, Leeds Museums and Galleries | 
This content is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA

Accessibility Statement | Terms of Use | Site Map

Copyright © My Learning 2018. All Rights Reserved

Website by: Grapple