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Talking Pictures Week 44: Chinese New Year

Talking Pictures for Children 

Talking Pictures is an online resource for children and their adults based on artwork from the Crawford Art Gallery Collection. We will share creative prompts for happy talk and play every Wednesday.

About the artwork

This is a porcelain Chinese vase probably made around 1735. Porcelain originated in China over 2,000 years ago. Do you have any porcelain in your home? Maybe your Granny and Granda have a few special pieces. Porcelain has an almost translucent look to it.

This vase was once owned by the Penrose family, merchant princes who lived at Woodhill in the Cork suburb of Tivoli.

Look closely

Can you recognise any of the flowers or creatures on the vase? The birds look like pheasants or peacocks. What would you keep in such a fancy vessel? I can’t imagine it was filled with gravy on the dinner table!

This vase is highly decorated with very delicate paintings of flowers and birds and there is a little lion figure on the lid. This ornament is known as a finial, a decorative knob on the top of an object or structure.

Chinese new year

Chinese New Year

In Ireland and across a lot of the globe we use the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar has about 365 days in a year and every January 1st marks the beginning of a new one.

But did you know there are many other types of calendar and some people measure time differently? The Chinese calendar is one very popular alternative. They consider a new year to be the end of winter and beginning of spring. This changes each year depending on the first new moon of the season.

The new moon is the first lunar phase of our moon sequence and a brilliant time to start something new. This year the first new moon of spring falls on Friday the 12th February, which makes this date the first day of the Chinese New Year.

One of the best things about the Chinese calendar is that each year relates to an animal of the Chinese zodiac. This year will be the year of the ox!

Year of the ox

Can you find your animal from this wheel?

Are you happy with that animal or would your prefer a different one?

How do you relate to your animal?

What animals would you include in your zodiac?


Oxes on boxes

Now we can make a little ox box to keep our treasures in. This box is made from an origami paper folding technique. There are a lot of photos to help you, but do not be intimidated it is a very easy method!

This video is very clear if you need any additional help with the folding:


Starting with an A4 page, fold one side down to meet the other and cut off the excess. This gives you a perfect square.


Fold the square in half and then half again, leaving you with a smaller square. Unfold the paper and it should now be divided into 4 equal squares. Fold the outside corners in to the middle so you have four triangular flaps.

Fold one third of your square over the flaps and then fold the final third down over the other two. This gives you three lines lengthways across your square when you unfold. Then do the same going the other direction.


Unfold your page completely and then fold two corners to meet in the middle, making a kind of diamond shape. Follow the pictures for the next few steps. If you need some more clues to this part you can watch the video above.

Unfold your page completely and then fold two corners to meet in the middle, making a kind of diamond shape. Follow the pictures for the next few steps. If you need some more clues to this part you can watch the video above.


Glue inside the flaps of your box to make sure it’s sturdy.


Now let’s add a finial like our Chinese vase above.

Cut a strip from the piece of paper we discarded at the start. Glue both ends to your lid like a handle. Flatten the curve at the top of the handle.


This box is for stashing memories, wishes and secrets from the year ahead so I have chosen an ox for my finial. Draw out your animal and cut the shape from the paper. Then glue it to the strip of paper on the lid of your box.


Now comes the fun part - decorate your box however you want and fill it with joy and abundance going into this new year.

Talking Pictures: Chinese New Year was devised by Annie Forrester

Please share:

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