OROCHEN FOREST FAMILY is a children’s wooden puzzle we designed after staying with one of the smallest remaining ethnic minority groups in Northern China, the Orochen. They shared with us stories about their cultural past, taught us the basics of their crafts, and took us into nature to fish and pick flowers. We were touched by how much they respected and lived in harmony with nature, despite now having been “settled” out of nomadic life. Animals were an important part of their nomadic existence in the forest, each having their own significance, and we wanted to create a toy that reflected this in an educational way.
Originally hunter-gatherers, their in-depth knowledge of their surrounding environment is rapidly being lost due to the incredibly fast development of China. They have an oral tradition, and much of this knowledge will be lost forever, if the younger generation do not learn about it. We hope that the puzzle will spark people’s interest in the culture of ethnic groups, and will teach the younger generation (both the Orochen and the West) a little about this nomadic group.
The characters of the toy wear graphics inspired by the patterns found on Orochen clothing and objects. Each puzzle cut by hand in China, supporting the country’s development yet maintaining a touch of craft. Made of birch ply, it smells of the forests that surrounded the Orochen when they were nomadic hunter-gatherers. With this toy, we hope to pass on the spirit of the Orochen to future generations, and that this is just the beginning of a journey to inspire intrigue and appreciation into fascinating cultures and places.
Featured in Monocle Magazine’s April issue.
For imaginative playing and learning!
This toy meets the European safety standards EN71-1,2,3
Wooden toy box dimensions: 204mm diameter, 30mm depth.
Included English and Chinese information cards.
Designed by Hayley Ho and Thomas Guest.
Featured in Christmas Issue of Time Out Hong Kong.