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Tooth Carving

Tooth carving, one of traditional Chinese cultural essences, is an important part of China's industrial arts. Tooth carving has a long history in China. As early as the Paleolithic Age, Shandingdong people living in Zhoukoudian Village carved decorative articles out of ivory and used them as burial articles.

Among various tooth carvings, ivory carving is much favored by people for its hardness and splendor in materials and smooth color and luster. Ivory carving has been regarded as the most unique among all tooth-carving craftworks all through the ages. As early as the end of the Shang Dynasty (17th-11th century BC), combs of ivory carving came into being. Ivory carving became the vogue after the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

The carving themes generally cover those Chinese folk tales, finished in traditional carving technique. Miniature ivory carving is another kind of sculpture. Artists can carve Chinese characters, painting, figures, scenery on a very small piece of ivory at the size of a grain of rice, full of interest, dignified layout and smooth line, trees and mountains complement with each other, vivid action of the figure, tiny but pretty, one can suddenly sense the simple and natural air.

Beijing in the north, Shanghai in the east and Guangdong Province in the south are China's three major tooth-carving centers. Among the three styles, Beijing tooth carvings are famous for its dignity, elegance and sobriety and Shanghai ones for its fineness in carving and miniature in design.

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