Eight Crafts of Beijing
During the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, the imperial courts established different workshops within the palace. During the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi (1661–1722) set up a workshop in the Yangxin Dian (Hall of Mental Cultivation) especially for the manufacturing, repair and storage of tools used in the palace. Imperial products produced there represented imperial aesthetics and top craftsmanship. The marvellous “Eight Crafts of Beijing” came into being during this innovative period.
Historically, opinions varied on the origins of Chinese cloisonné, a technique generally believed to have been introduced from abroad during the Yuan Dynasty (1271– 1368). Chinese artisans integrated cloisonné with traditional styles; hence a precious treasure came into being.
Making the mother mould, using filigree (wire inlay), applying enamel and firing the enamel all these procedures constitute the handmade art of cloisonné. Just like the phoenix that rises out of the ashes of a fire, cloisonné is burned repeatedly. Correspondingly, cloisonné has gone from being a utensil to a symbol of traditional Chinese culture.
Whether it is pleasing to the eye or not depends, first of all, on the craft of making the mother mould. The red copper sheet must be cut according to the drawing and clipped into different fan shapes or circles; the clipped pieces are then hammered into copper moulds of various shapes. For example, when making a bottle, one first divides the bottle into three sections, namely the bottle's neck, belly and pedestal; then the artisan hammers and welds them together.
There is a saying for cloisonné moulds that “the copper must be pure.” Therefore, cloisonné generally uses red copper due to its “pure” look. Moreover, copper has a high melting point, fine ductility and can easily be glazed, so red copper became one of the major materials for making moulds. Gold and silver can also be used to make moulds.
A fine vessel shape is attributed to mould making, and exquisite decorative design depends on filigree (wire inlay). Cloisonné's technical name is “filigree enamel with a copper body,” which indicates the importance of both. Filigree procedures mainly include three parts: gluing wires, welding and wire inlaying. First, fine and flat copper wires are glued together with pigskin glue so that flower patterns can be made. If the wires are not glued together, only one piece of wire can be used at a time.
When gluing the wires together, six, eight or even ten wires can be used together to form flower patterns. Identical filigree patterns may be used for products made in pairs.
An artisan needs to break off and curve these soft, flat, fine and flexible copper wires into various patterns with tweezers according to the drawing, and then glue them on the copper mould.
Once fixed, the filigree pattern cannot be changed. Therefore, the pattern making is the most challenging job in the whole filigree craft. Whether the pattern is a figure, bird or flower, it should be true to life, both in gesture and expression. This is the most difficult aspect of the work, and the one that tests one's skills the most.
Enamel filling ( dianlan or “filling in blue”) is an important link in cloisonné making. The procedure of “enamel filling” consists of mixing enamel glaze powder with a proper amount of water, then adding different colourants and solvents to prepare different colour glazes.
After that, according to the sketch of the cloisonné picture, the glaze is filled into the interspaces between the wires with professional tools and then enamelled. Cloisonné has over 60 kinds of glaze colours. It is necessary to match the colours in accordance with the design. In 2009, the Beijing Enamel Factory Company developed 64 kinds of leadfree, eco-friendly glazes, ending the history of lead-based enamel glazes.
Nowadays, cloisonné is more widely used, including in caisson ceilings, cresting on doorways and on doorknobs. For over 600 years, the beauty of cloisonné hasn't dimmed with the passage of time.
In China, the discovery and application of the substance can be traced back to the Neolithic Age, before 7,000 BC. People found that lacquer alone did not produce a satisfactory result, and their pursuit of beauty pushed them to begin engraving ornamental patterns on the surface of enamel coating.
This was actually an accidental discovery that was a result of the natural instinct to create meaning. Over time, flowers, birds, fish, insects, trees, mountains, rocks, pavilions, men and women all became part of the artisans' repertoire. As generations of artisans became more skilled, their techniques grew, and their aesthetic standards improved.
The principal raw material for carved lacquerware is lacquer, a sort of grayish white sap taken from a tree called Rhusvernicifera, commonly known as a varnish tree. After filtering the raw lacquer, senior artisans mix the lacquer with boiled Chinese wood oil, cinnabar and water, turning the milky-white raw lacquer into something bright and red, and suitable for use.
In this process, the copper base should be cleaned thoroughly and coated with lacquer ash, and then dried in the basement and fired in an oven. If the base is made of wood, it should be fired first and then coated completely with lacquer to seal it. Each layer of lacquer paint needs to be dried in the basement.
After the raw lacquer and Chinese wood oil are dry, an artisan grinds old roof tiles into a fine powder and mixes this with lacquer to form a paste, called lacquer ash. This is evenly painted over the wooden base, and then a piece of cloth is pasted on top. After being air-dried, the surface is scraped and painted with more lacquer ash.
Lacquer coating is comprised of various lacquer painting steps. Divided by techniques, this procedure includes precoating, applying the lacquer, finishing, drying, edge-trimming, trimming and enhancing the lacquer. During the precoating process, a layer of thin lacquer is rubbed all over the surface of the piece, then is left to dry. Once dry it's fired in an oven and then sanded and cleaned.
Only at this point does the actual lacquer coating process begin. Each layer of lacquer shouldn't be too thick, and another layer shouldn't be applied until the previous one dries. Different products require various layers of coating, each taking a different amount of time.
However, 4–5 millimetres of coating is often required, which takes 70–100 layers of coating over a period of four or five months, sometimes up to a year. Once the lacquer coating is thick enough, the edges should be trimmed so as to maintain the correct shape. The entire lacquer coating is critical and takes the most time, thus very labour-intensive.
The carved patterns must be designed before making the base. The carving process is the most impressive, complex and wonderful part of making lacquerware, and is what makes lacquerware different from other handicrafts.
After completing the brocade carving, the carved lacquerware becomes a sophisticated piece of work. But the process isn't finished. Next, the carved piece of lacquerware will be placed outdoors for several months to expose it to the elements.
The weather-beaten lacquerware is then brought back inside for the final steps—polishing and finishing—while at the same time fixing any minor defects. To make the lacquer smooth and glossy, further stages such as firing, wiping and glazing will be done.
Today, carved lacquerware still remains somewhat a mystery to the public, because raw materials are difficult to find and the production is both tiring and monotonous, so fewer people are willing to do this work. In 2006, lacquerware was listed as a Statelevel Intangible Cultural Heritage item.
When Emperor Chengzu (reign: 1403–1425) of the Ming Dynasty moved the capital to Beijing, to match the elegance of the previous capital of Jinling (present-day Nanjing), he ordered all courtyards in the palace to be laid with carpet to highlight its regal stature.
By the Qing Dynasty, carpets had become an important aspect of the palace, and the imperial court set up two departments to manage workshops in Beijing to produce carpets for the palace, as well as established palace carpet workshops in Xinjiang, Ningxia and Qinghai.
Both the quality and number of palace carpets reached its peak during the Qing Dynasty. To recover this technique, the Beijing No. 5 Carpet Factory set up a Panjin Carpet Rescue Team in 2013. The team visited the Palace Museum three times, and after careful study, finally revived the work of previous artisans. From then on, the weaving technique of panjin carpets started a new chapter, and its value has gained wider recognition.
Weaving a palace carpet first involves designing the pattern. Mountains and rivers, flowers and birds, insects, fish, and beasts can all be used as elements in carpet patterns. The meticulous “Beijing-style” pattern with a symmetrical design became one of the palace carpet's typical patterns.
The “Beijing-style” pattern is composed of “border, corner, kui, and flower.” “Border” is divided into wide and narrow borders, and the straight lines beside the borders are called “lines of stitches.” “Corner” refers to the patterns in the four corners of a carpet. “Kui” refers to the kui dragon (a bulllike dragon with only one leg), which is the central pattern.
“Flower” refers to a traditional decorated pattern with exquisite flower branches. After the design comes colour matching, as the success of a carpet's pattern relies on its colours. The main pattern of a palace carpet must be magnificent; auxiliary patterns must be bright in colour; foil patterns must be soft and harmonious; and dark patterns must have a light grey colour. After a pattern is completed, it is necessary to produce a draft according to the actual size of the carpet, a process called “lofting.”
Wool used in palace carpets mainly comes from sheep. Based on their experience, craftspeople prefer wool produced in Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Sichuan and Tibet. Wool that has been sheared from sheep once each autumn is the top choice. When the weaving tools and machines are ready, carpet weaving can begin.
The restoration of the double-sided coiling technique was an achievement resulting from the Panjin Carpet Rescue Team's three visits to the Palace Museum. Kang Yusheng, a State-level palace carpet weaver, was already a master in weaving palace carpets at that time, but the weaving technique of panjin carpets was new to him.
Since in the past, panjin carpets were
used as tributes to the emperor sent from different provinces, most of the patterns had strong regional characteristics. Therefore, Kang and his apprentices had to make Beijing-style panjin carpets by using regional panjin techniques.
After studying the patterns and having discussions with experts in literature, history, pattern design and silk weaving, they finally selected the kui dragon pattern, which had the most regal characteristics. In 2005, Wang Guoying, Kang's youngest apprentice, wove a panjin carpet called “Nine Dragons Gathering Happiness.” With a kui dragon in the centre and patterns in the four corners, the panjin carpet's gold foil threads are clearly visible.
Panjin carpets look golden because the threads used are gold foil threads, though they are not entirely made of gold. The gold foil thread is first made into thin slices and then glued to bamboo paper. After that, the slices are flattened and polished and then cut into one-millimetre filaments, which are twisted and wrapped into threads.
At the time of restoring the panjin carpet weaving technique, the gold foil threads had not been produced for a long time. The gold foil threads were no longer available in Beijing and all the craftspeople of this technique in the Nanjing Gold Foil Factory had already retired.
Therefore, the factory had to invite retired masters to produce gold foil threads for weaving. This practice also saved another endangered intangible culture heritage— the “gold foil” manufacturing process. It is said that the most skilled craftspeople can produce nearly 700 square metres of gold foil with just 50 grams of gold.
To make the “soft relief” palace carpets praised by many, flattening, washing, piecing and cutting are the essential steps. “flattening” is the first process to make the carpets even and smooth, so that there are no crevices or lines showing in the surface, but still retain the same thickness.
The next step is to “wash” the carpet. The cleaning mixture's main ingredients are lye, bleaching powder and sodium hypochlorite, with hydrogen peroxide and oxalic acid used as supplemental chemicals if needed. After soaking, scraping, brushing, draining and flushing the carpet, all the grease, dust and dirt are removed and the carpet looks clean.
After washing, the wool fibres on the surface have been improved, and the carpet has a silky lustre, appearing more regal. After that, its patterns need to be pieced and cut. Compared with flattening and washing, piecing and cutting is a process more demanding of the craftsperson's skills, and determines whether the palace carpet can meet design requirements and be a true work of art.
Before storing a palace carpet, the last process is called “trimming.” The process of trimming is a complex and highly technical task that requires patience and care.
With metallic yarn as raw material, the craft is also called the “fine metal workmanship.” Among the unearthed filigree inalyed objects, a crown during the reign of Ming Emperor Wanli is considered unparalleled, indicating that this art reached its height during the Ming Dynasty. Filigree inlayed artworks were rare in ancient China and could only be found in imperial mausoleums, since gold was rare and precious.
Making gold wire is regarded as the most “basic” process of the craft, and refers to making solid gold into thread. An artisan places a crucible onto a lit stove, and heats the gold until it becomes liquid. The liquid is poured into a paper tube, whereupon the liquid cools and solidifies into a gold metal bar.
The artisan then places the gold onto a table press with two V-shaped steel grooves, which when put together form a square. Pressed by the solid metal plates, the gold bar becomes long and thin. This process is done repeatedly over an extended period. The substance that emerges is known as “gold wire,” though at this stage it is still thick and rough.
The artisan then coils the wire and heats it in a burner, turning it hard once again. This next stage requires a special tool called a thread board. Once the cooled wires have been threaded through holes drilled in the board, extrusion and stretching will again make them “raw.” Thus, the artisan once more coils and heats them. After heating, the artisan will repeatedly thread the wire until it becomes as thin as 0.02 millimetres, marking the end of the process.
Now, the artisan must weave two or more wires together. They put the wires on a board, holds them down with a piece of wood, and pushes the wood back and forth. Under pressure and the force of friction, the wires entwine to form a decorative design.
Likewise, twisting hardens the wire, making it brittle. After each twisting, the artisan reheats the metal. Two or three wires are often twisted together, forming the simplest and most basic pattern.
To transform wires into a finished work of art, the artisan uses eight traditional techniques, each of which is subdivided into varieties. Inlaying forges wires into various patterns using a pair of tweezers or a clamp, and then soldering them onto the object.
The most common method of inlaying gold filigree is edgewise inlaying or baokouxiang. An artisan presses a copper
sheet until it reaches an appropriate thickness, cuts the pressed copper sheet into strips to form the edge of the bowl, then solders the edges and bottom of the bowl together.
The artisan puts a gemstone into the copper bowl, and with force presses the edges toward the bowl centre, holding the gemstone in place. A bowl made by an experienced artisan will wrap perfectly around the gemstone. Edgewise inlaying makes use of semi-precious stones.
A traditional technique is required to inlay precious gems like diamonds. A drill bit is selected according to the gemstone size to punch holes into the filigree piece. After the gemstones are laid, the artisan should patch the holes with a milling cutter.
In June 2008, filigree inlaying was listed as a State-level Intangible Cultural Heritage item.
Chinese lacquer is a natural material that is anticorrosive, moisture-resistant and wearresistant. Objects coated with such material are glossy, giving them a warm feeling. Therefore, all the emperors in Beijing through the ages liked to have such objects made using a wooden base, which was painted and decorated using such techniques as inlaying, outlining in gold, gilding, gold inlaying, carving and filling, and drawing coloured designs. Gold-inlaid lacquerware, known as one of the “Eight Crafts of Beijing,” is magnificent but not flamboyant.
According to historical records, Beijing's gold-inlaid lacquerware technique became mature and a new technique of soft mother-of-pearl inlay was created in the Yuan Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty saw the development of lacquerware flourish. During the reign of Emperor Yongle (1403–1425), the court set up an office to produce lacquerware in Guoyuanchang (now east of Xishiku Avenue), with gold, silver, tin and wood used as the roughcast base, and two types of techniques—red lacquer carving and lacquer filling—were adopted. In the Qing Dynasty, 42 workshops were established under the Imperial Household Department, one of which was a special lacquer workshop. With the end of the monarchy, this gold-inlaid lacquerware technology was passed to the common people.
The success of a piece of gold-inlaid lacquer work depends on its design. Artistry and practicality, modelling and patterns, theme and technology, material and technique, and main feature and background should act in concert with each other and bring out the best in each other. After the design is finalised, the artisan chooses fine wood, which is first dried and shaped, to make the base. After the wood base is prepared comes lacquer coating. First of all, the artisan will sand the surface of the wood base until it is flat but not glossy, because lacquer won't adhere to a glossy surface. After that, a few coats of Chinese natural lacquer or synthetic lacquer will be applied.
Then, the artisan uses a knife to apply lacquer ash and a piece of cloth. Lacquer ash is made by mixing raw lacquer with powder made of ground-up roof tiles or porcelain and concocting this into a paste, which is applied to the surface of the base with a plastic scraper or ox horn scraper. As for pieces in a special structure, special tools have to be produced using rubber or other pliable, tough materials. When the lacquer ash layer is completely dry, it will then be polished with sandpaper. Artisans need to
recoat the uneven areas with fine lacquer ash until the surface is smooth without holes.
As another key part of the production of the base, applying the cloth requires superior skills: The correctly-cut cloth is evenly coated with raw lacquer on both sides, then, following a certain order, the artisan places the cloth in the specified location, quickly scrapes it with a scraper, then squeezes out any excess raw lacquer or bubbles. After each lacquer layer dries out, the artisan sands it with sandpaper. If there are uneven areas or the wood looks bad due to improper sanding, repairs should be promptly made. After air-drying for about a week until the lacquer base is completely dry, the artisan again polishes it smoothly with sandpaper, and the lacquer-coated base is completed.
During this process, it is necessary to make the lacquer colour even and pure, smooth, bright and clean. If natural lacquer needs to dry out in a basement, the temperature and humidity in the basement should be well controlled.
At this point, artisans will use lacquer decoration techniques to carry out surface decoration and inlay. The materials and tools used in different processes, techniques applied, and the artistic styles that are formed, all make the appearance of the finished product different.
The decoration techniques include inlaying, drawing coloured designs, carving and filling, lacquer ash carving, making “patterned cracks,” and applying “tiger skin” lacquer. Each of them can be subdivided into many processes. Inlaying means to make reliefs of people, flowers, birds, rocks, buildings and so forth by means of engraving, sanding, stacking, shovelling, hollowing out, and carving with a variety of natural soft and hard jade, mother-of-pearl, animal bones, ox horns and the like as raw materials, and to inlay them in the lacquer base.
If a high relief technique is applied, and a three-dimensional effect is made in the relief, which is called “rectification inlay” and is a more advanced skill. Threedimensional inlay mostly has people and dragons, phoenixes, unicorns and other birds and animals as themes.
Artisans first make the base in accordance with the design requirements, and then process jade, animal bones, or mother- of-pearl inlay into many different shapes such as slices, shells, scales and lumps, which are carefully combined and stuck to the wood base. This kind of product is finely carved and carefully pieced together, a perfect combination of form and spirit. After other workmanships are applied, a fine work of art inlaid with gold lacquer is born.
In recent years, artisans have made innovations and improvements to the two traditional processes of drawing coloured designs and carving and filling. They have developed new, bold techniques borrowed from Chinese painting; based on the techniques, they render traditional lacquerware and furniture refreshing.
The ancient Chinese invented embroidery and used it to embellish brocade to express a variety of thoughts. Over thousands of years, people's never-ending pursuit and desire for beauty has motivated them to do this work. Neither weaving nor textile printing can create such charming and exquisite works of art.
The term “Beijing embroidery” refers to imperial hand-made embroidery that was based on the folk embroidery of North China. It has absorbed the essence of various embroidery techniques, including Suzhou and Guangdong embroideries, as well as the best of all the different varieties of folk embroidery.
As Beijing embroidery products were made mainly for the imperial court, there were strict strict aesthetic standards and specifications, craftspeople had to follow fixed procedures and standards for designing patterns. Materials were also carefully selected.
The threads used were mainly made of silk or even real gold, silver or peacock feathers. Using gold and silver thread to embroider patterns of dragons and phoenixes
is called panjin. Even the ornamentation worn by the imperial family were precious, made with pearls, jade and coral beads. Because Beijing embroidery products were handmade, fine brocade, satin and silk were selected as the fabric to embroider on.
The colours of Beijing embroidery are ornate, beautiful, noble and dignified, with azure, yellow, red, blue and purple the main colours, each with its own implication. For instance, yellow implies power, red for happiness and blue for nobility. The main feature in colour selection was that the threads be colourful but not vulgar. From costume patterns to accessories, all embroidery presented a careful composition and dignified style.
Most Beijing embroidery products had an essentially different style from folk embroidery products. The latter depicted hobbies of scholars, the common lives of businessmen and the natural beauty of the countryside. The former avoided being vulgar in all its images.
For instance, it used the sun, moon and stars to imply one's tolerance and insight, mountains for calmness, dragons for variation, pheasants for talent in writing, tigers and animals for loyalty, fire for brightness, and rice for feeding people. These implications not only reflected the emperors' wishes, but also implicitly expressed the idea of praying for blessings and getting rid of bad luck and evil spirits.
Tools for Beijing embroidery are not complicated, including needles, a tambour and a frame. The frame is composed of four wooden panels of different lengths. The longer one is called a tambour and the horizontal one called a spile.
There are usually seven steps in the traditional process of Beijing embroidery, including making the layout, drawing and embroidering. At the beginning, a Beijing embroidery craftsperson needs to draw the patterns on wax paper. Then he pricks along the patterns with a needle and brushes a special powder on the wax paper to print patterns on the fabric. The next step is the most time-consuming and laboursome: embroidering, which best shows the wisdom and skills of the craftsperson.
Beijing embroidery originated in civil society and developed in the imperial court, and eventually returned to civil society. In 2009, the craft was included in Beijing's Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Beijing ivory carving is a traditional craft that formed in Beijing more than 2,000 years ago. During the Han, Wei, Jin and Northern dynasties (206 BC– AD 581), the ruling class of the feudal society advocated a luxurious lifestyle, which made ivory carvings symbolic of wealth.
Until the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, the craft was exclusive to imperial members and noblemen. Ivory carvers from Suzhou, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, influenced by the preferences of feudal monarchs and by local Beijing craftspeople, gradually established a school of ivory carving with Beijing's regional characteristics, which came to represent the “northern style” of the craft.
The earliest ivory carvings were used as practical tools. With thousands of years' development and cultural influence, ivory carving has become more complex in design and technique. Inlaying and other techniques combined organically with carving. Gradually, ivory craftspeople developed a process of carving that included chiselling, shovelling, polishing, colouring and yellowing.
When “chiselling”—also known as “base building”—a craftsperson carves on the ivory directly with his saw and chisel without bozzetto (mud draft) or any other equipment. If the ivory is too hard for carving, the craftsperson will first soak it in water. Ivory is hard, but can absorb water,
and after soaking it becomes softer. Based on his design, a craftsperson knows roughly where the figures or plants are to be carved before any detailed work is done.
“Face carving” refers to the elaborate work of carving the face of a figure. The cross-section of the ivory should be avoided for face carving because web-like strips within the tusk will destroy the final effect. “Shovelling” refers to the detailed carving of a figure's hair, headwear, clothes, accessories and items held in a figure's hand to ensure that they look smooth and vivid upon completion.
After that, colouring and yellowing are done if necessary. The ivory is coloured and painted on the surface. Colouring is classified into “new colouring” and “old colouring” according to the paints and decorative style. “New colouring” is done based on the original ivory colour, covering the work either partially or entirely with transparent paints.
Partial colouring is usually used for the face (eyebrows, eyeballs), hair, items held in a figure's hand or on its collar, as well as the butterflies and dragonflies of a flower-andinsect piece. Overall colouring is adopted to add colour to all the parts of a work, and also to paint patterns when necessary.
For example, the blossoms and leaves of a flower-themed ivory work need overall colouring. “Old colouring” on the other hand is done with non-transparent paints after the ivory carving is “yellowed.” “Yellowing” refers to the process of accelerating the ivory's oxidising and colour- changing in an artificial way. In spite of it being an artificial technique for producing an antique-like finish, “yellowing” also helps protect an ivory work.
After colouring and yellowing are complete, only a wooden base and a silklined box are needed to make the ivory carving a genuine finished work of art. Wooden bases inlaid with silver wires are popular in Beijing area. All the ivory carvings must be stored in silk-lined boxes for better transportation and collection.
Nowadays, with the ivory trade ban and increasing protection of elephants, the inspiration and techniques from ancient history along with the craftspeople's professional, perfectionist spirit will never disappear. In a sense, jade, bamboo and wood carving are an inheritance and further development of ivory carving.
Since ancient times, jade has been connected with all that is valuable and beautiful. In ancient China, jade was considered a symbol of goodness and noble character. The jade dragon carved by the Hongshan people 5,000 years ago fully demonstrates the then Chinese jade craftspeople's wisdom and skill. Even today, the work maintains its mystique and arouses endless imagination.
Jade carving is a traditional handicraft unique to China. Since ancient times, it has been divided into the “southern school” and “northern school.” The “northern school” represented by Beijing features a stately air, capturing the cultural atmosphere and the rhythm of ancient Beijing.
Traditional Beijing jade carvings represented the top level of the industry and were mostly made by court craftspeople, whose workmanship was simple, but dignified and fine. After the Qing Dynasty was overthrown, court craftspeople started to work in private workshops and became the backbone of the industry from the Republic of China era to the 1980s. In the 1990s, the style of Beijing jade carving became more diverse. After thousands of years of development, jade carving has become an art with a complete production process and diverse techniques. To do a good job, a craftsperson must first “read the material,” gaining a thorough understanding of the colour, quality, shape, lustre, hardness and other natural properties of the jade. Carving must be done based on the original shape of the jade, and therefore the craftsperson usually has the finished product's look in mind before work begins.
The design process involves not only the appearance of the finished product but also the technique employed. Techniques are adopted based on the natural properties of the jade and its expected final shape, so that the finished work is unique.
Carving is divided into “preliminary shaping” and “further refining.” Before his carving, a craftsperson first paints lines on the jade to define the general shape, which is called “shaping.” “Further refining” determines whether the finished work can be considered truly exquisite.
Through “further refining,” the work takes on a more lifelike look, and the figures, landscapes, birds and animals seem vivid and realistic. After all the aforementioned steps are completed, the jade has become a semi-finished product that needs only final polishing and decoration. The surface must be polished to get rid of any coarse spots. Finally, the semi-finished product must be cleaned, oiled and waxed into something smoother and finer.
In 2008, Beijing jade carving was included on the State-level Intangible Cultural Heritage List. In the same year, the Beijing Jade Carving Factory was recognised as a workplace of intangible cultural heritage, being called the “birthplace of industrial art” and the “cradle of specialised craft.”
A cloisonné lamp
A carved lacquer vase
A palace carpet at the Palace of Heavenly Purity in the Forbidden City
The crown made during the reign of Ming Dynasty Emperor Wanli
A gold-inlaid chest of drawers
An emperor‘s dragon robe featuring Beijing embroidery
An ivory carving
Guancanghai ( Viewing the Sea), a carving on a grey Hotan jade pebble