Master craftsman dedicates life to revitalizing skill

Updated: Jun 14, 2024 By WANG YING China Daily Print
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Shen Guoxing, the sixth successor of Lao Feng Xiang's gold and silver craftsmanship, creates a gold wine cup. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

Shen Guoxing is the sixth generation of Shanghai jewelry company Lao Feng Xiang to carry on its gold-and silver-processing craft, and has spent more than half his life revitalizing the special skill.

Revitalizing one of the country's intangible cultural heritages means not only handing down skills from generation to generation, but also letting more people have the opportunity to experience and enjoy the technique, said the 56-year-old master craftsman.

To carry out the special skills, Shen founded a work studio in July 1996 with 12 artisans. The studio can produce one or two works of the finest quality every year.

Members of Shen Guoxing's work team process gold and silver at their studio in Shanghai on May 22. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

"The 100 percent handmade works are of the highest standards, with an extremely complicated process used. For example, it takes our team two-and-half years to make a golden caldron from scratch," Shen said.

In order to make the best pieces, Shen and his team also design and produce their own tools to meet various manufacturing requirements.

"Every tool is unique to its owner," said Shen, who has crafted more than 300 tools of various sizes and functions used for making works of gold and silver.

According to Shen, while his team does extremely delicate handmade works, new technologies are also being used in the production process.

Members of Shen Guoxing's work team process gold and silver at their studio in Shanghai on May 22. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

"The introduction of 3D modeling to make gold bowls has halved our production time, allowing us to produce larger numbers of items for personal use or for collections," he said.

Shen said the studio also caters to the younger generation's design and style preferences to create innovative market-oriented products.

The gold- and silver-processing craftsmanship of Lao Feng Xiang, a time-honored brand with a history dating back 176 years, is one of China's intangible cultural heritages.

Shen started studying gold and silver ornamentation at vocational school in 1985. Two years later, he was handpicked as one of the apprentices of Zhang Xinyi, the fifth successor of Lao Feng Xiang's gold- and silver-processing craft, for his outstanding performances and comprehensive mastery of the skill.

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