Jinling Folding Fan: a lifetime pursuit
2017-08-23 14:48:00

Photo taken on Aug. 22, 2017 shows Ding Guiying infixing fan bones into the fan leaf. (Photo by Wang Jingfeng/jschina.com.cn)

As CCTV’s documentary “Masters in the Forbidden City” won a successful hit on screen last year, the “craftsman spirit” was revived and became a buzzword. In Nanjing, there are a group of elderlies who are fully deserved the title of "Masters” for applying all life passion and energy on one thing – crafting folding fans.

Hidden in an ordinary residential community at the foot of Qixia Mountain, the Jinling Folding Fans Research Center gathers ten elderly craftsmen aged from 57 to 75 who have been dedicating themselves to the fan craftwork for nearly half a century. 75-year-old Ding Guiying is one of them. She is not only the oldest craftsman but also one of the three registered inheritors at the workshop. A completed Jinling Folding Fan needs to follow a strict process flow. Choosing raw material, splitting the bamboo, shaping the fan bones, sanding the surface and papering fan leaf, each process contains several sub-procedures. Every craftsman at the workshop was put in charge of a particular process and has been on the position for decades. “I started to make fans when I was 20. Sometimes I cannot believe I’ve been doing this for over 50 years.” Ding said with a smile. Then she pointed the other craftsmen and said. “They are all here for their lifetime, at least 35 years.”

The craftsmen are all busy and concentrated on their work, barely talking, leaving only the grating sound from sand paper and flat files in the room. They work hard and assiduous with no thought for a reward. The only thing might bother them is the inheritance. “It’s not easy to train a new fan craftsman. It normally takes 3-5 years to train an apprentice. Shortage of young apprentice will be a problem.” Ding said.


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Source: jschina.com.cn Author: Wang Jingfeng Editor: Jennifer