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Concerning the origin of boxwood carving, there is a legend, which states the art form was invented by a child cowherd called Ye Chengrong, who was a local of Leqing County in Zhejiang Province.

According to the story, one day the boy is playing in a temple at the end of the village, and finds an old man carving a Buddha figure. He is immediately attracted and ties his cow to a tree. Ye finds a piece of sticky mud, and sits in front of the temple to imitate the old man. The old man is a famous local artisan; finding Ye very intelligent and fond of learning, he decides to take the child as his apprentice, and teaches him about the circular carving, clay sculpture, dyeing, gilding (gold plating) and relief.

The boy learns very fast, and a year later masters these skills. One day, while Ye is sculpting some Taoism figures, the Taoist in the temple finds a branch of boxwood and asks him to carve a hairpin. While carving the boxwood, Ye finds the nature of the wood very hard, the grains very exquisite, and the color and luster very outstanding. He deems it a very good raw material to make woodcarving, and conceives boxwood carving, a very rare and precious genre of folk art forms in China.

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