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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

A dragon, all made with sorghum stalks by Zhao Runsheng in Jingxing mining area of Shijiazhuang, Hebei province.[Photo provided by Gu Binjie and Zhang Tengfei/For China Daily]

To make them, more than 300,000 pieces of sorghum stalk were applied over more than 1 million steps. "That was the hardest work I've ever participated in creating," Zhao says, adding that his instructor, together with 12 students, one of whom was Zhao, took a year to complete it.

"The techniques required to make complicated structures with the stalks fascinated him. It seemed that he had a bond with the sorghum stalks," Zhao says.

Making the delicate stalk handicrafts is truly demanding, requiring a lot of skill, patience and effort. "From picking suitable stalks from bundles to making grooves in the stalks to attaching them to one another, every step needs not only some architectural knowledge, but also extreme care," Zhao says.

"If the grooves are not made at the right angle, the stalks will not grip each other firmly enough."

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