Taiyuan craftsman passes down stone rubbing technique

Share This Post

Stone rubbings, also known as ink-imprints or ink-squeezers, is one of the major inventions from ancient China. Using paper and ink, the engraved surfaces can be copied as sharper images to depict history.

When a stone rubbing piece is made, a piece of moistened paper will be used first to cover the surface, then a stiff brush is used to press the paper tightly, bringing the inscription to light. When the paper is almost dry, an inked pad will be used to tap or squeeze the surface, leaving the inked inscription on the paper. Finally, when the paper is peeled off, a clear impression of the engraved texts or pictures will emerge. This traditional technique is described as "a camera reviving history" in China.

Chen Xu, 68, of Taiyuan, Shanxi province, who first learned about stone rubbings in 1995, has spent most of his time on it since then, delving into it for more than 20 years. The stone rubbing works contain loads of information about history, culture, art, and life in ancient China, Chen said, they are not only the copied images of cultural relics, but also the carrier of history, precious memories from China's past.

Chen is also exploring the possibility of merging this ancient technique with modern life. Except for some traditional objects for rubbings, such as oracle-bone inscriptions and tombstone inscriptions, things from daily life can also be ink-imprinted. Thus the stone rubbing technique can also be used to reflect modern life, like urban and rural construction, poverty alleviation.

"Based on real vegetables, fish and shrimp, my work 'Full vegetable basket' shows the achievements in poverty alleviation in rural areas of China. I want to record this encouraging historical stage, where people in rural China have enough vegetables and fish to eat," Chen said.

Chen believes that stone rubbings can play an important role in spreading Chinese culture. He said that nowadays, we need to bring forth some new ideas for inheriting this ancient technique, turning it into a storyteller of Chinese culture.

"Now as a teacher of the 'stone rubbing technique' curriculum at Shanxi University of Finance and Economics, I hope that through my own efforts, more and more people can join us to pass on this ancient technique," said Chen.

Follow Chinafolk.org on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
spot_img

Related Posts

Majority of China’s museums now offer free admission

The total number of Chinese museums rose by 395 to 6,183 in 2021, 90 percent of them offering free admission, said a senior cultural official Wednesday.

Translating Chinese literature: Cross-cultural communication

In 2012, Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and his works have since been translated into at least 40 languages with more than 200 versions read worldwide. In 2020, online Chinese literary works attracted more than 83 million overseas readers, a 160.4-percent increase year on year. Chinese literary works have become an important window for foreigners to understand Chinese culture. Translators, as messengers of cultural exchange between China and foreign countries, have played an important role.

Father empowers disabled daughter with music

A girl with an intellectual disability from Suzhou, Jiangsu Province has learned to play more than 300 songs with Erhu and flute and has won many prizes thanks to her father.

Yu Zhongxian: Understand to be understood

"Translation is understanding and making others understand," said translator and professor Yu Zhongxian during a recent interview he gave to China Pictorial (CP). "I operate a ferry, a bridge between two shores empowering Chinese readers to gain richer knowledge of other countries."

Iljaz Spahiu: My own private China

"Mandarin Chinese is appallingly difficult to learn!" Albanian sinologist Iljaz Spahiu waved his hands and couldn't help bursting into laughter when recalling his first Chinese course. In 1974, when he was only 19, Spahiu set out from Tirana, capital of Albania, and flew across the Eurasian continent to Beijing. He enrolled in a Chinese class at Beijing Language Institute (now Beijing Language and Culture University). After more than a year of studying there, he went to Peking University for a program on Chinese studies.

Mark Leenhouts: Slow fire makes well-done translation

At the very first sight, few understand the grave lexicography of the Chinese character"𡈙(yóu)." But Mark Leenhouts is quite familiar with how the pictograph depicting a "a caged bird" on his WeChat profile vividly captures the nature of the translation profession—"a decoy bird."
- Advertisement -spot_img