Even though it was autumn, the sun was harsh at an outdoor ground where more than 150 people from 19 provinces and regions were competing in a vocational skill competition on artifacts in Qufu, Shandong province, on Oct 22. Their task was to finish a given work related to artifacts within six hours.
Zheng Jianyang, along with 19 people, started at 9:30 am drawing on a square woodblock a twisted dragon, a typical decorative color painting used in wooden architecture in previous centuries.
The 34-year-old from Qufu added the finishing touch by dotting black pupils in the dragon's eyes at around 4 pm. He then spent 10 minutes to finish a paper with questions, including what are the basic principles of protecting and restoring ancient architecture and what are the potential wear and damage faced by decorative color painting. Before time was up, he returned to his painting, checking his works near and far and polishing the colorful clouds surrounding the dragon.
In addition to decorative color painting, the event had competitions on carpentry, tile and brick work in architecture of yesteryear, restoration of ceramic artifacts, calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting works, besides archaeological exploration.
Organized by the National Cultural Heritage Administration, the competition aims to promote craftsmanship and provide a stage for people who are working on artifact protection and restoration to show and exchange skills.
"People who take measures to deal with artifacts need to have rich theoretical knowledge and solid practical skills," says Gu Yucai, deputy director of the administration, at the opening ceremony of the event. "Their ability directly affects the safety of artifacts and determines the quality and level of artifacts protection and restoration projects."