Our hand therapy walnuts come as a pair inside a traditional brocade box, accompanied with a care kit (oil, brush, and a two-sided cleaning pick). The Four Towers variety is available in two sizes, and in polished and unpolished. (When first starting, it is advised to start with the smallest size possible, which makes movement easier.)
Four Towers walnuts are produced in Pinggu, Beijing. They have a big belly, and the small mountain-shaped head has a dull, rounded point. The texture resembles flowing water. The walnut “leather” is high quality, with a slow color-aging process, able to endure lots of play. Many years of play will result in a walnut leather that looks shiny and glossy.
Baoding balls, also known as stress balls or fitness balls, are one of the most well-known practices in Traditional Chinese Medicine dating back to the Song Dynasty, used to improve health, relieve stress, stimulate acupressure points, and as a fun leisure activity. Natural walnut is the most popular form in China, as their shape and texture can massage acupoints in the hand, while the movement helps improve cognitive function and physical dexterity.
Since the palms and ten fingers of both hands are closely connected with the internal and external organs of the body, each organ of the body has a corresponding acupressure point on the hands. When the ten fingers move the fitness ball, this motion massages multiple parts of the palm, thereby stimulating multiple acupoints. According to the meridian theory, there are three meridians on the palm. By stimulating acupuncture points on the hands, the fitness ball can improve blood circulation, relieve fatigue, promote appetite, improve sleep, and enhance physical strength. It can prevent and treat high blood pressure and relieve discomfort from prolonged computer or phone use. Long-term exercise can also strengthen the brain and increase intelligence, enhance memory, eliminate fatigue, refresh and relieve worries.
This kind of walnut can be used as "hand therapy walnuts” or “fitness walnut” and became part status symbol and part health remedy. This practice originated in the Han and Sui Dynasties, and became popular in the Tang and Song Dynasties, creating a unique Chinese walnut culture popular among Emperors, literati, officials, imperial beauties, and health-minded regular people. The Tianqi Emperor, who played with walnuts and practiced “kernel carving” (a unique Chinese art form carving intricate micro-sculptures onto the kernels of fruits or nuts), was often said to "play with walnuts and forget state affairs,” and the Qianlong Emperor was not only a connoisseur of walnuts, but also wrote a poem praising walnuts.
By the end of the Qing Dynasty, having a pair of good walnuts always in hand became an obligatory status symbol, and The Palace Museum in Beijing displays more than a dozen pairs of hand-rubbed walnuts along with their beautifully carved rosewood boxes, accompanied by the words: “People are divided into several categories, and those who play with walnuts are ranked first: the literati play with walnuts, warriors spin iron balls, rich people carry gourds, and idle people walk their dogs.”
Walnut varieties specifically selected for this purpose are considered a collectible art prized by connoisseurs, and are known as “Wenwan walnuts.” Picked when they are 7-8 years old, these are considered to have collectible value, created after careful selection and processing of particular strains of walnuts. Each pair of Wenwan walnuts must have a consistent size, texture and weight, with a deep and defined texture. Wenwan walnuts are considered more valuable after many years of play, creating a shiny, smooth, and aged surface. After decades of play, a red color develops which is considered especially precious. In summary, walnuts for playing differ from walnuts for eating due to their highly differentiated process of selection, oiling, aging/playing, collecting and trading.