Ceramic surgeon fixes it

Updated: Mar 31, 2023 By Li Yingxue China Daily Print
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A lid enhanced with traditional engraving. [Photo provided to China Daily]

As the fifth-generation inheritor of his family's ceramic-repair skills, Nie has devoted himself to better preserving them, as well as bringing traditional Chinese engraving skills and modern art designs to the mix.

Mending ceramics is not only a handicraft but also a "living fossil of folk tradition" that has helped the development of Chinese culture and the recovery of ancient relics.

Yuan Xiaobo, a book editor, has studied how Chinese porcelain-mending spread. He says the technique of using metal as a staple to fix two pieces can be traced back 1,500 years.

A lotus motif adds depth to the original floral design. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Yuan says the earliest records that mention mending porcelain are in the book Compendium of Materia Medica written by medical expert Li Shizhen of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Zibo-style porcelain-mending has a history of several hundred years, and focuses on details and precision, especially the method of sticking broken pieces together whereby a shot of metallic powder is added to the fracture so that the finished item is stable.

The technique was added to Shandong's provincial intangible cultural heritage list in November 2021.

Nie says like regular repair workers and goods dealers, those who knew how to repair ceramics used to also wander the streets with tools.

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