Nut carving, known as Hediao in Chinese, generally refers to two kinds of carvings that respectively use fruit stone (also known as the fruit"s pit), like olive or peach stone, and walnut as the raw material. The art form is acclaimed for its delicate carving skills on the small fruit stones or walnuts, and is known as an "uncanny work of art" among the people.
Nut carving generally uses relief and three-dimensional carving skills due to the materials" limited surface area. To produce a fine piece of nut carving, one has to make good use of the shape, grains, and texture of the material; a blueprint also has to be made before the actual carving can begin.
Nut carving prospered in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the art form had already attained very high achievements, with many of the rich and high officials considered it fashionable to wear a piece of nut carving around. Up to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the carving artists upheld the notion of nut carvings requiring more delicate and refined skills.