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Attempting to build a future for his craft

Tradition inheritor longs for someone to take up the tools and follow in his footsteps, Zhang Yu reports in Shijiazhuang.

By Zhang Yu | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-03-24 08:34

Zhao in the process of preparing sorghum stalks to make an article.[Photo provided by Gu Binjie and Chen Feng/For China Daily]

Zhao had been creating stalk works as a hobby for almost two decades, before starting to dedicate himself totally to preserving and perfecting the craft in 2010.

"I sensed that the traditional handicraft might be lost forever if nobody decided to adopt it as a lifelong career," Zhao says.

Wang Li, head of the Cultural Center of Jingxing Mining Area, says that the folk custom of creating handicrafts with sorghum stalks can be traced back to the late Qing Dynasty.

Stalk items are completely handmade, and often feature specific regional characteristics.

"It has been passed down for the past century," Wang says. However, he adds, there are fewer young people interested in learning the skills and taking up the baton nowadays.

"It requires a person to concentrate their mind on studying the techniques and work with the stalks all day long," Zhao says. "It must be someone who really enjoys the craft, otherwise they won't stick with it."

Zhao was able to maintain his interest in the craft, thanks to his instructor Xu Yaode.

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