Cultural heritage masters keep traditional art alive in Beijing

Artists and enthusiasts gathered to celebrate China’s intangible cultural heritage and the artists who continue to carry traditional crafts into the modern day at the first event in a series to be hosted by the Beijing Intangible Cultural Heritage Talents Innovation and Development Association, at the Beijing Intangible Cultural Heritage Parlor on March 20.

During the event, three well-established artists discussed their careers and displayed a number of works. Alex Lee, Wu Zhongfeng and Yao Xiaojing are all masters in their fields, each belonging to one of the “Eight Unique Skills of Yanjing.”

The traditional skills of Beijing represented by the “Eight Unique Skills of Yanjing”, Yanjing being Beijing’s former title, have become a representation of traditional Chinese culture and have been protected as such. The eight skills include engraved lacquer, ivory carving, cloisonne, jade sculpture, inlaid filigree, inlaid gold lacquer, palace carpets and palace embroidery. In addition to these specific categories, craft skills in glass, clay and paper arts are also heavily steeped in China’s history.

The event was a chance for enthusiasts to learn more about these ancient skills and meet some of the most influential modern day artists in Beijing. The next event in the series will take place at the same location next Wednesday, March 27.

Li Zhigang is a master of carved lacquer arts. Li has enjoyed carving since he was a child, and has made significant achievements in furniture, murals and decoration, winning many awards both at home and abroad.

He was recognized and awarded by the Beijing municipal government in 2015 and then went on to win the title of highly skilled talents with outstanding contributions in Beijing in 2016. (Picture provided by artist)

Li Zhigang’s piece “Lotus is more than enough” (Picture provided by artist)

Wu Zhongfeng is a master in Mongolian marquetry. Her piece “Jiulongbi with gold inlaid treasure” was celebrated as a national treasure by more than a dozen researchers of the Palace Museum.

Wu is now the chairman of Beijing Wuzhongfeng Mengxiang Art Co., Ltd, and her work has won many domestic gold and silver awards.

Wi Zhongfeng’s Silver Pot with Gold Horse (picture provided by artist)

Yao Xiaojing is the artist behind the Clay Man Zhang Painted Sculptures, and is a representative successor of intangible cultural heritage projects as the fourth generation in her family to continue the craft.

The “Clay Man Zhang” sculptures originated in the Qing Dynasty and have a history of over 180 years.

Yao XiaoJing is a member of the China Folk Literature and Art Association, a member of the China People’s Association Coloured Plastic Professional Committee, and a director of the Beijing Folk Literature and Art Association. (Photo credit Wang Xiaobing)

(Resource: People’s Daily Online)