Carving out a legacy

Updated: Nov 28, 2023 By Fang Aiqing CHINA DAILY Print
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One of the two projects showcases architect Hua Li's attempts in injecting new life into traditional craftsmanship of timber-framed structures. YANG SHAOCHUAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Contemporary conversion

Lu admits that the industry is experiencing a difficult time, with a relatively low income and lack of social recognition that steers people away from a career that demands knowledge, wisdom and physical strength.

According to Meng, the scholar, despite the systematic accounts in Yingzao Fayuan, a bible for Suzhou-style architecture written by Yao Chengzu (1866-1938), carpenters today inhabit a different environment from their predecessors.

The younger generation would rather imitate than invent, she says.

The 74-year-old Lu has been teaching apprentices since the 1970s.

In recent years, Xu, who has been learning carpentry from Lu for the past 43 years, teaches part time at local vocational colleges.

Both believe three to five years is adequate time to cultivate a carpentry skill set, but when, or whether, there will be a next-generation master of Xiangshan carpentry, who can draft, carry out the labor and direct, remains a question.

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