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Folk Crafts
Special> Living Legacies> Folk Crafts
UPDATED: October 9, 2012 Web Exclusive
A Cut Above the Rest
A carving craftsman brings jade to life
By Ma Li

Continued efforts

JADE CARVING: Frog Fun carved by Lang Xiaofeng won two prizes—gold prize of China Hundred Flower Award for Jade Article, and special prize of the fourth Beijing Arts and Crafts Exhibition in 2009 (LANG XIAOFENG)

Dozens of years of hard work in the jade factory laid a good foundation for Lang Xiaofeng's creative pursuits.

"Jade carving stresses intrinsic charm, which is hard to express," said Lang. "My first carved figures were only similar in appearance to a person. It requires solid basic skills of fine arts and quality of comprehensive knowledge for an artist to express fully a person's happiness and sorrow in artistic works," Lang said.

Long-term studying and practice of fine art over the years enabled Lang to apply artistic skills of sketches and sculptures into traditional carving ability on the basis of traditional carving skills. His carved artworks feature a strong stereoscopic impression and sense of beauty, coinciding with modern tastes, thus allowing Lang to form a unique artistic style.

To pass down his craft, Lang enrolled graduates from vocational schools or colleges of fine arts in his own working studio.

"As these students have ardent interest in jade carving and boast a very solid foundation of fine arts knowledge, I teach what I know and what I have learned to them, giving them good opportunities for practice, in addition to offering food, accommodation, and salary," said Lang.

A Chinese saying goes: A jade stone is useless before it is carved; a man is nothing until he is educated. "Students in my studio like uncut jade. As long as I give them my years' experience and guidance in due time, all of them are able to become exquisite jade craftsmen, and become heritors of jade carving," Lang said, fulfilling his original intention to establish his studio.

Lang has become accustomed to having dialogues with various shapes of jade rocks over the past years. "Only when you become calm can you have some designs in your mind," he said. Lang often has an initial design in mind in accordance with the color, quality, and shape of the uncut jades. He then would draw his design on paper, and modify it constantly until the final version.

Even so, modification would continue amid the jade carving according to the quality of the jade material.

Each piece of work would undergo a long, repetitive procedure. Lang became used to the process and feeling of the creative act. "As the effort is put into it, each piece of the jade work exhibits its own unique charm," Lang said.


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