Taishan Yang's gourd carving inheritor shows off skills in Tai'an

(chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2023-02-21

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Tai'an Cultural Museum, which is also known as the Tai'an Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center, is located in Tai'an, Shandong province and held a 2023 Tai'an Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) experience activity on Feb 18.

Yang Xiuwen, a fifth generation inheritor of Taishan Yang's gourd carving, showcased his skills to children participating in the activity, and explained how to select, paint and carve gourds.

Yang's works incorporate many folk stories and local customs related to Mount Tai.

Taishan Yang's gourd carving boasts a history of more than 150 years and has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage in Tai'an.


Yang Xiuwen teaches children how to carve gourds during an ICH activity on Feb 18. [Photo/WeChat: SDTXTA]

In Yang's workshop, there various utensils of different sizes and functions, as well as several completed gourd carving works, such as the Load-bearers in Mount Tai, which won the gold medal in the Shandong Arts and Crafts Competition.

Gourds have been cherished by Chinese people throughout history, and its Chinese name sounds like "Fu Lu", which means happiness and wealth, so it is regarded as a symbol with an auspicious connotation.

Gourds come in different sizes and shapes, so gourd carvers should select a gourd with a suitable appearance, draw patterns according to the shape itself, and then carve the gourd with a tool to remove the skin and leave wheatear-shaped marks. The most important feature of Taishan Yang's gourd carving is the wheatear marks that appear as messy marks, but are actually arranged orderly like wheatears.

After years of painstaking research and exploration, Yang Xiuwen's works have clear lines, sharp color contrasts, and vivid patterns.