Special Focus

The Tao of Turquoise Carving问道绿­松石

- Text by Zhou Zhitao & Zhang Dong Photos by Zou Bin

With its pine-cone shape and distinctiv­e blue-green colour, the history of turquoise can be traced back to the legend of Empress Nüwa, who melted stones to mend the sky at the beginning of time. As a symbol of warmth and vitality since thousands of years ago, turquoise has been prized as one of the four most famous jades in China owing to its unique hue.

A local resident of Caojiawan Village, Baofeng Town, Zhushan County in the upper reaches of the Han River, Cao Hongxing as a child heard of the story of the Tibetans who came back home with gems from thousands of miles away, which were then hidden in the mountains around their village.

Childhood seemingly flew by in an instant, like a soaring bird that disappears behind a mountain ridge before anyone could catch a glimpse of it. As he grew up, Cao traveled extensivel­y, always thirsting for the next adventure, and doing a host of part-time jobs, such as selling vegetables and doing odd jobs to eke out a living.

In his 20s, Cao heard that a relative was running a crystal processing factory in Huidong County of Guangdong Province. He decided to have a go at it and learn the tricks of the trade. Starting from small tasks like washing stones, over ten years of dedicated work, he eventually became the best carver of the factory.

At that time turquoise was gradually gaining

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