With thousands of years of history, the ancient capital of Nanjing, China is known as the birthplace of many traditional handicrafts that requires the meticulousness and delicacy. Nowadays, there has been a significant reduction in the number of artisans maintaining traditional arts. Here are some of the great traditional arts of China that have existed for a long time.
Jiling Publishing House is a traditional Chinese-style house with a spacious garden. This place includes a museum and a publishing house with the largest collection of hand-made wooden engravings in China. This is also one of the very few places in the world that still carve Buddhist texts on woodblocks. Its publications are distributed to pagodas throughout the country.
This manual technique requires the carefulness and meticulousness. First of all, we have to carve the Buddhist texts on woodblocks, then print them on paper. These sheets of paper are then folded and bound. Jinling Publishing House contains about 125,000 woodblocks of different types that are used for printing more than 1,500 Buddhist texts. Some of the famous sutras are the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra.
Chinese paper cutting
Paper cutting is one of the traditional Chinese handicrafts. Paper cutting is the folk culture that contains the soul of the Chinese people. Since the advent of paper, the art of cutting paper has appeared. After that, it became popular in China, especially during the Song dynasty.
The earliest artists were probably the members that served the court. But then, paper cutting quickly spread and became folk art. It is used by the Chinese for a variety of reasons such as house and lantern decoration. The patterns used for paper cutting are derived from Chinese mythology.
Nowadays, one of the most skilled paper cutting craftsmen in Nanjing is Zhang. One of his most famous performances was cutting two circles from two separate pieces of paper. But when he finished the cutting and pulled them up, these two circles overlap each other seamlessly to form an eye-catching shape. Previously, in China, paper cutters were often employed in the wedding ceremony with the sense of bringing goodness.
Chinese Yunjin Art
Yunjin, also called cloud brocade is a kind of brocade made in Nanjing. In the past, this was used to serve the royal family. However, during the Qing Dynasty, Yunjin became popular even with even common people.
Yunjin is famous for its exquisite technology and elegant beauty. The design of this silk is quite diverse with a lot of beautiful patterns. Yunjin also means “beautiful like a cloud at sunset”. However, to complete a brocade product, the artist takes much time and effort.
Today, the silk production house in Nanjing still uses old-fashioned wooden looms which were used everywhere in China more than 1,500 years ago.
Mr. Gao has been working as a lantern maker for many years. He was taught this craft by his father at the age of 12.
Mr. Cao said that from the period of the Southern dynasty (420-589), in some areas in front of Temple of Confucius and along Qinhuai River, lanterns were often used in festivals. Since then, lanterns have been familiar with and indispensable to the life of Chinese people. From the viewpoint of the ancient Chinese, lanterns drove the devil away, brought good luck and happiness for every family. In China, currently, there are seven major lantern festivals: the Qinhuai Lantern Festival, the Yu Garden Lantern Festival, the Zigong Lantern Festival, the Shengjing Lantern Festival, the Xi’an Lantern Festival, the Baotu Spring Lantern Festival and Lychee Bay Lantern Festival.
Art of making gold leaf
Jiangning district in Nanjing is the main production house of gold leaf. The output accounts for 70% all over the country and 60% of the world. To make a piece of gold leaf with a thickness of 0.12 mm, the artisans have to work extremely meticulously and go through dozens of processes. With the hands of talented artists, each gram of gold can cover an area of up to 0.47 square meters. Most of these gold pieces are used to decorate and overlaid objects or sculptures of Buddha statues in temples and pagodas.
In general, China is home to numerous traditional arts containing valuable cultures. Until now, Chinese people still have preserved and developed these arts so that Chinese values can spread all over the world.