The Chinese Art Mudware ceramics are commonly known as mudware, mud figures,mud people, mud men, mudd men, or mudmen, mudman.
The mud figurines were individually hand-made by members of villages in the Wanjiang district of Guangdong province China and thrived towards the end of the 18th century, and continued to be produced in the traditional way into the 20th century in South China in Kwangtung Province, in the town of Shekwan / Shiwan
The mudmen are brightly glazed figurines of people in various poses with various objects some of mystical importance.
The mud people were made in two different ways, the smaller ones are made in one piece using a small piece of mud that the artist forms into the figure using their hands and fingers, while the larger figures were made in stages, each part being individually moulded by hand and then assembled by other artists who added more detail to the figure. The collection of assembled mudmen were then cured using a kiln
The fingerprints of the artists who moulded these figures may still be seen, in the fired clay of some of the mudmen.
Each mudman was hand painted with a low temperature lead glass glaze. The face, hands and feet were left unglazed to expose the natural colour of the mud.
The age of antique mud men can be verified by the markings, or lack of markings, incised on the bottom of the figures.
It's unlikely that you will find a mudman older than the late 1800s, unless dealing with upper-end collectors or museum quality. But those identified from around 1900 are still very collectible and valuable.
By checking the underside of the mudware figurine , it may be possible to approximately date the piece. If the figurine has an indentation or a black or red stamp with "CHINA" (sometimes the "N" is backwards) or "HONG KONG", then it is from circa 1890 - 1919. Those figurines stamped with "MADE IN CHINA" or "MADE IN HONG KONG" date from circa 1920 - 1944. If it has "MADE IN CHINA" or "CHINA" stamped in red ink, then it dates from the late 1940s. From 1952 onwards, the mud figures have a stamp and a number. If the figurine has no markings they were not meant for export and were probably purchased by travellers to the orient who brought them home. Figurines can also be found signed by the artist.