You are here > Home > Quick Navigation > Sculpture & Carving > Carving

Bamboo Carving

Bamboo, pine and plum, called the "three good friends in the cold years," have always been popular among people, including poets, artists and handicraftsmen. The common bamboo gives a sense of transcendent beauty, and collecting bamboo carvings has been the hobby of Chinese people for a long time.

China was one of the first nations to use bamboo. Archeologists once unearthed a painted dragon-pattern bamboo spoon from the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-AD24) at the No 1 Han tomb of Changsha Mawangdui in Hunan Province. From this, we can see that as early as 2,000 years ago people carved bamboo into elaborate utensils.

Very few bamboo carvings pre-dated the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but mid-Ming-Dynasty bamboo carvings have become a professional industrial art, and more and more artists have taken it up, shifting its role from practical use into an art form. Jiading and Jinling areas that teemed with bamboo were the two bamboo-carving centers during the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

The Jiading School was represented by Zhu He, Zhu Ying and Zhu Zhuizheng, who were three generations of the same family. They were all good at painting, embossment and round carving, among which the embossment consists of bass and high embossments. With the efforts of the Zhu family, the Jiading School became the biggest branch of bamboo carving in the world of that period. Carvers like Hou Xiaozeng, Shen Dasheng, Wang Yongfang, Wang Zhiyu, Wangzhi, Wu Zhifan, Shi Tianzhang, Zhoupo and Gu Zhangyu were all outstanding members of this school.

The Jinling School featured another style, which paid no attention to the exquisite carvings, and pursued natural tastes with minimal cut and polish. Its main technique was the bamboo concave carving, which not only involved lines but also the side inlays of the bamboo and could vividly recreate the sentiment embodied in the landscape. The Jinling School was set up in the mid-Ming Dynasty by Pu Zongqian, and it was unfortunate that his craftsmanship was not handed down after his death.

Two other carving methods are called "peel then carve" and "carve then peel," which were based on the development of bamboo carving in the Ming. In the first method, bamboo is sawn into bamboo tubes with the burls and green surface removed, then inlaid into a wooden matrix after cooking, basking and pressing. Lastly, the surface is polished with patterns carved on it. The second technique was developed in the mid-Qing Dynasty, retaining the green surface with carved pattern on it. The surface is then removed to reveal the real bamboo body.

Quick Navigation

New Article