Chinese Craftsmen

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Even if the world is awkward and the society is impetuous, there are always some people who are sticking to a craft and a tradition because of a love, a feeling, a dream, and a hope. Even if the process is difficult and the future is unknowable, it never gives up. Because of this insistence, they are especially precious in this fast-moving society. The author spent 4 years searching for more than 30 traditional Chinese craftsmen, tracking and photographing their lives and work, recording the persistence and dreams of the current Chinese traditional craftsmen, and their living conditions, and the development status and predicament of traditional crafts.

About Author

Bai Ying, The member of Shanxi Province Photographers Association. The signed photographer for some media-CFP, Imagine China, Chinese Nation Geography, etc. The writer for many print medias and online medias. The blogger for the NETEASE and Sohu's Travel. The photographer specializing in the fields of scenes, old villages, folk custom, etc.

Table of Contents
Preface The Spirit of Craftsmanship in My Eyes ... 7
Part 1 Making Traditional Art at the Fingertips
Zhang Wenliang A Master of Ceramic Art ... 13
the Yi Ethnic Group Silversmiths ... 21
Qu Yongxia A Paper-cut Artist ... 27
Li Suowen A Brick Sculptor ... 33
Xue Shengjin Artist of Varnished Lacquerware ... 39
Liang Junwei A Marvelous Wood Sculptor ... 45
Fu Haiyun Artist of Dough Modeling ... 51
Wang Yinhai A Master of Inscription Rubbing ... 57
Zhao Runsheng An Artist of Straw Weaving ... 63
Part 2 Simple but Useful Work at the Fingertips
Wu Yuanxin A Printing and Dyeing Artist ... 71
Guo Caijun Glass Maker ... 77
People of Yingjing Earthen Pots Makers ... 83
Bai Mingyin Basket Mender ... 89
Pei Xiangnan The Last Needle Maker ... 95
Wang Jinliang A Barrel Hooper ... 101
Li Baogen A Handmade Papermaker ... 107
Yin Junjie Persistent Blacksmith ... 113
Li Shide The Last Wicker Man ... 119
Part 3 Delicacy-making at the Fingertips
Tsering Yukchun Salt Maker ... 127
Qie Konglin Maker of Dried Cucumbers ... 133
Lu Shaoyong Sugar Painting Artist ... 139
Niu Wenming Baker of Earth Burner Moon Cakes ... 145
Gao Yongjun A New Master of Handmade Vermicelli ... 151
Cai Jun Vinegar Maker ... 157
the Four Brothers Beam Pressing Flax Oil Makers ... 163
Zhang Jiang Tofu Craftsman ... 169
Part 4 Rescuing Endangered Crafts at the Fingertips
Yin Laiting Fireworks Craftsman ... 175
the Wang Brothers Copper Ware Craftsmen ... 181
Ai Shengjun Iron Ornamental Fireworks Craftsman ... 187 Zhang Bing Director of the Dough Lamp Exhibition Fair ... 193 Duan Yuping Incense Maker ... 199
Hu Huaiying The Maker of Dough Flowers and Figures ... 205
Huo Chengwu Dough Sheep Maker ... 211
Ma Xiaozeng Lion Dance Props Maker ... 217     
Sample Pages Preview
Sample pages of Chinese Craftsmen (ISBN:9787508539232)
Sample pages of Chinese Craftsmen (ISBN:9787508539232)
Sample pages of Chinese Craftsmen (ISBN:9787508539232)
Sample pages of Chinese Craftsmen (ISBN:9787508539232)

The Spirit of Craftsmanship in My Eyes

I like travelling and always want to make a record of my experiences during a trip. This is why I have fallen in love with photography. Without any specific plan in mind in the beginning, I simply took photos of what I saw along the way, especially in beautiful natural scenes. In the summer of 2013, I got a chance to observe the production process of Pingding carved porcelain, a time-honored craft on the national list of intangible cultural heritage items. Mr. Zhang Wenliang, an inheritor of this craft, became my friend. Out of love for carved porcelain, and curiosity about its production techniques, I frequented Mr. Zhang s workshop to observe and take pictures. The more I got to know about the craft, the more I loved it. The superb skills of Mr. Zhang and his son are so impressive. Their devotion to the work is well worth our admiration. They gave me a new understanding of Chinese traditional artisans and their skills. I began to pay attention to this their work, with my camera focusing on the artisans around me. Later, whenever I reached a new place, I would try to find and visit local artisans to record their stories and working processes.
In the past four years, I met a number of them and recorded their life in pictures and words. Among them, there are masters of Chinese arts and crafts, like Xue Shengjin, an inheritor of Pingyao lacquer art, Wu Yuanxin, inheritor of Nantong blue calico, and Zhang Wenliang, inheritor of Pingding carved porcelain; common folk artists and craftsmen including Li Shide, good at wickerwork, Yin Junjie, a village blacksmith, and Yin Laiting, a fireworks manufacturer; and those engaged in producing various handicrafts such as the silver ornaments of the Yi ethnic group and Yingjing pottery wares. Further- more, there are also traditional craftsmen who have become the only inheritors of their trades, like Pei Xiangnan, a producer of handmade needlework, and Bai Mingyin skilled at repairing Chinese traditional bamboo sieves and winnowing fans; those artisans bold innovating traditional techniques, such as Fu Haiyun, an artist making colored dough figurines, the Wang brothers, copper sculptors, and Ma Xiaozeng, an inheritor of making props for lion dance; and a number of young craftsmen who are rising stars committed to the tra- ditional Chinese culture, like the glassmaker Guo Caijun and the producer of handmade vermicelli Gao Yongjun.
Interviewing these artisans and taking their pictures is actually a demanding job. In most cases, it cannot be finished with one or two visits. Actually, to film the entire process of carved porcelain making, I visited the workshop at least six times. To capture how Mr. Bai Minyin repairs the bamboo sieve and winnowing fan, I accompanied him to walk through villages for several days in a row. To witness the moment when the earthen pot is taken out of the kiln, I worked from dawn to dusk, waiting by the kiln on numerous days just for the chance to capture an image of the raging fire in the dark night. To photograph the process of making tablet rubbings I trekked up mountains with Mr. Wang Yinhai to visit a graveyard in the wild. And to look for the inheritor of wickerwork, I came to the Dadongzhuang Village in Shouyang County and asked them from door to door. Hard work pays off. I finally succeeded.
By faithfully recording the daily life, superb skills, and social environment of these artisans, this book is aimed at showing the charm of those traditional handicrafts and highlight the spirit of craftsmanship which has been deeply rooted in their blood. The pictures, videos, and passages of words in the book not only provide a record of Chinese folk traditional craftsmen, but also help to preserve traditional life styles once prevailing but now perhaps dying in this part of the world.
Some traditional handicrafts can advance with the times through innovation, some may dance to another tune and try something else, and there are some that may die out gradually as time goes by. No matter what happens, they all represent a precious cultural heritage of our nation. Just as Pei Xiang- nan said when talking about his needle producing technique, “From the perspective of production, producing needles manually has been unable to meet the needs of the development of the sociaty. However, as a traditional craft, it still has strong vitality in that a rough metal can be ground into a delicate embroidery needle. This is a good example to illustrate the spirit of craftsmanship worth being inherited forever!”

Bai Ying
July 7, 2017

Chinese Craftsmen