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Job fair pairs handicraft masters with potential apprentices

By He Dan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-20 02:22

Handicraft masters sought apprentices who can carry forward their skills and cultural legacy in a job fair dedicated to people with disabilities in Beijing on Sunday, the annual National Day for Helping the Disabled.

Organizers from the Disabled Persons' Federation from Beijing's Xicheng district said the activities were aimed at providing more job opportunities for disabled people and preserving folk art.

Job fair pairs handicraft masters with potential apprentices

Kong Lingmin (right) shows his traditional kite craftsman skills at a job fair on Sunday, the annual National Day for Helping the Disabled. The job fair is aimed at providing more employment opportunities for disabled people and preserving folk art. ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Cui Bianxia drew a red China rose with green leaves inside a glass snuffbox. The painting inside the bottle was done using special thin brushes. The 31-year-old worked in a noisy room at the career service center in Xicheng district packed with job applicants, handicraft masters and journalists.

"I love inside-bottle painting because those bottles look so exquisite," wrote Cui, who was born deaf.

Cui has tried more than 20 jobs, including working at a toy factory and as a makeup artist, since she moved to Beijing from her hometown in Heilongjiang province in 2003.

"Because of communication difficulties, it's really hard for me to find a good job," Cui wrote.

Xie Shanshan, an inside-bottle-painting artist from the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Society, was impressed with Cui's work. "She is very smart and talented," Xie said. "I gave her advice about using a brush and colors using a hand gesture and she understood what I meant very quickly and her painting was well done."

Xie said she has exchanged contact information with Cui and would be happy to take her on as an apprentice if she shows persistent interest and devotion to painting.

Six masters of cultural heritage including hand-made kites, mask painting and inside-bottle-painting attended the job fair.

They exhibited fine art pieces, provided on-the-spot teaching and interviewed enthusiastic attendees. Most important, they searched for potential apprentices to pass on their skills and attitudes toward art.

Sun Lingmin, whose handmade kites have been featured at the country's top galleries and museums, also attended the fair on Sunday.

The 67-year-old is a firm believer that people should help the disabled to support themselves with skills.

"As President Xi has stressed that empty talk can only lead a country astray but hard work brings prosperity to a nation, good artists and masters should try their best to solve some social problems with actions," he said.

"We can only improve disabled people's lives by helping them master useful skills that they can then use to make a living by themselves.

"But cultural heritage is more than skills, so I am looking for apprentices who really love this art and show strong willingness to know more about the culture, the spirit behind the artwork."

Xia Shumin, vice-chairwoman of the Disabled Persons' Federation from Beijing's Xicheng district, said her federation will do follow-up work after the job fair, which did not set a specific recruitment goal.

"The fair only provided a platform for disabled people in Beijing to meet with craft masters. We will arrange more activities to help them know more about the handicraft they feel interested in and provide training workshops and every possible assistance for them to pursue a career in handicrafts," she said.

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