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China's Mona Lisa now made of 6,000 tin cans

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-06 16:09
TAIYUAN - A 28.8 meter-long carved picture "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" made from over 6,000 tin cans astonished visitors in northern China's Shanxi Province Monday.

The aluminum foil carving "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival," a famous Chinese paintings often dubbed "China's Mona Lisa," is the work of Gao Bao'an, a resident of Linfen city.
Gao used more than 6,000 tin cans and took three years to finish the 28.8 meter-long, 1.3 meter-tall carving, almost five times the size of the original.

The carving on tiny tin cans, which each could only be unfolded to 21 centimeters in length, was no easy task.

"A single can was not enough to carve one character and a finished figure needed to go through as many as 26 procedures including copying, clipping, polishing and pressing," Gao said. "Every step mattered. Some patterns were so complicated that it not only took me a long time, but very often I would cut my fingers."

To make sure his carving was a perfect replica of the original, Gao used magnifiers to observe the details to keep any errors to within 0.3 millimeters.

"You need patience and carefulness to make large-scale works," Gao told Xinhua.

Though not trained professionally, Gao has always been an art lover. He has tried to paint with grain and is interested in manual tie-dyeing.

"It is easy to discard a can, but it is also a kind of resource," explained Gao.

The "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" was created by Zhang Zeduan during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 to 1127 A.D.) and depicts the buildings and daily life in the ancient capital of Bian Jing.

The authentic piece is kept in the Palace Museum and can only be seen once every three years, to protect the fragile ancient paper. Using a more hardy material such as tin cans offers an opportunity for more people to enjoy the ancient artwork.