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Craftsmanship spirit keeps centuries-old traditional crafts in E China’s Jining vibrant

Nishan ink slab

A report from Global Times Online:

Many traditional crafts in Jining city, east China’s Shandong province, fascinate people around the world and brim with renewed vigor, thanks to the craftspeople who dedicate themselves to inheriting and carrying forward local intangible cultural heritage.

Chinese pistache woodcarving

Chinese pistache woodcarving, national-level intangible cultural heritage in Qufu, a county-level city administered by Jining, has a history of more than 2,400 years. The craft requires wood from Chinese pistache, a rare tree species that symbolizes respect for teachers in China. The best wood for making Chinese pistache woodcarvings are believed to be from trees that grow in the cemetery of Confucius, a well-known ancient Chinese philosopher and educator born in Qufu.

Yan Jingxin, the fifth-generation inheritor of the traditional craft, began to learn the technique of making Chinese pistache woodcarvings when he was about seven or eight years old, and has worked in the field for 80 years.

The making of Chinese pistache woodcarvings is never a quick process, according to Yan, who stressed that superb craftsmanship is the result of devotion and hard work.

Nishan ink slab

Nishan ink slab, ink slabs made of stones from Nishan Mountain in Qufu, enjoys great popularity by virtue of its simplicity and special design that is based on the original grain of the stone used to make it.

The technique of making Nishan ink slab is a provincial-level intangible cultural heritage item that dates back more than 500 years.

“Our ink slabs are neither square nor round, as they are made according to the original shapes of the stones. We believe the natural beauty is more precious than hand-carved design,” said Ding Hui, a veteran craftsman who makes Nishan ink slabs.

Ding, who came into contact with Nishan ink slab for the first time in 1978, tries to preserve the pristine and natural beauty of stones and create a sense of artistic conception when making ink slabs. He often inscribes lines of poetry on his work and seldom adds decorations to it.

Glazed tiles

Glazed tiles, a traditional building material in China, represent a national-level intangible cultural heritage item in Qufu. The production of glazed tiles in Qufu involves more than 20 procedures.

Wang Deqiang, an inheritor of the Qufu glazed tile producing technique as well as the person in charge of a time-honored glazed tile factory in Qufu, adheres to traditional methods and carries forward the centuries-old technique.

Owing to the efforts of craftspeople like Wang, glazed tiles produced in Qufu not only enjoy great popularity with ancient building-related projects at home, but are sold to countries including France, Germany, Canada, Japan, and Chile.