Young Shandong engraver replicates ancient Chinese New Year paintings

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A young craftsman from Shandong has replicated a tiger-themed new year painting of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) via block printing, an intangible cultural heritage in China.

Li Zhenhao has been engaged in engraved block printing for over a decade. He apprenticed with Chen Yi, a nation-level inheritor of the craft in China, and officially began his career.

"It is not easy to persist in this craft. You must sit for a long time. You must think carefully before starting to carve, and it often hurts your hands. Additionally, there are hundreds of carving methods. You have to choose suitable methods according to the types of Chinese characters and carving materials," said Li.

Originated from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), engraved block printing has greatly reduced the production cost of books, accelerated the dissemination of information and knowledge, and promoted the development of social civilization.

China's engraved block printing was listed as an intangible cultural heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009.

With the rise of modern printing technology, this craft is entering an awkward position of no inheritors.

Li has continued to innovate, creating a series of engraved block prints that include invitations, writing paper, souvenirs, etc. He also launched a training course to promote this ancient and charming craft online.

In addition to attracting collectors and engraved block printing lovers, activating and using this craft based on protection and inheritance is also necessary to pass on this world-recognized human cultural heritage, said Li.

"This is the first year that I create new year paintings through engraved block printing. I also plan to make a series of Chinese zodiac works, " he added.

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