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Cai family celebrates rich ties to lacquer thread sculpture

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: Jul 4, 2019


With infinite patience Cai Shuikuang, now 80, works on a lacquer thread sculpture. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Along the long path in the inheritance and development of Xiamen lacquer thread sculptures, some people stand out – no more so that Cai Shuikuang and his nephew Cai Chaorong.

The Cai family began to make lacquer thread sculpture in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), through to the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The family has passed down the traditional technique from generation to generation, for more than 300 years.

From the 1970s, Cai Shuikuang, the 12th generation inheritor of the Cai family's lacquer thread sculpture technique, began to integrate modern elements into the traditional culture. The plates, vases and paintings he made with lacquer threads are simplicity, yet the details are extremely delicate.

With Cai Shuikuang's encouragement and guidance, Cai Chaorong now follows his uncle's steps, and he has devoted himself to the development of lacquer thread sculpture.

Born in 1977, Cai Chaorong was a chef after he graduated school. He then decided to take up the family tradition after a talk with his uncle.

Though it has been developed for hundreds of years, lacquer thread sculpture is still only made by hand, from sculpture and foundation coating to the lacquer thread decoration and gilding the surface.

A single piece can take months or even years, according to Cai Chaorong.

Because the cycle of economic returns so long, only a few hundred people in Fujian are engaged in the handicraft.

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