Master craftsman preserves ancient art

By China Daily ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-11-10 08:30:01

With winter coming, Chinese people are already considering how to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year.

No matter how customs vary around the country, one thing seems common among all Han people: making New Year woodblocks.

Master craftsman preserves ancient art

The thousand-year-old tradition has different styles in China, but Beijinger Li Yingda is perhaps the best representative of this art form from the capital.

When inking paper with the carved woodblock, Li considers himself to be recording history. However, he admits the tradition has gradually diminished as the young generation pursues a modern lifestyle.

"How could people forget the New Year woodblock? It represents a time's cultural flavor. Each piece has its unique connotation. Chinese people's customs and daily lives are all recorded in the pictures in the past 1,000 years."

He regrets that his professional New Year woodblock gallery might be the only one in Beijing. Nevertheless, Li says it would be hard to switch careers because he grew up in a family that made the traditional pictures.

Li says the genre features a wide range of topics, so people will carefully choose those most suitable to represent their keenest wish for the new year.

"When you pass by a family's front door and see the pictures, you will sometimes understand what the family is like. But today many young people have no idea what the pictures mean. That's an even more urgent problem than the fact woodblock skills are being lost."

He feels it is a must to mix in some new themes to better appeal to today's people, but he worries about how to balance between creativity and preservation of tradition. "The work needs perseverance, which is lacking among young people," says Li, who keeps honing his creative carving skills. "At least my son shows interest in the woodblock."


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