​Septuagenarian master passes on unique Yimeng calico handicraft

(chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2023-05-09

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Meticulous work: Zhang Mingjian engraves a block for color printed calico. [Photo by Xing Ziqin for chinadaily.com.cn]

Septuagenarian Zhang Mingjian – from the Hedong district of Linyi city, in East China's Shandong province – is an inheritor, officially tasked with passing on the unique craft of producing Yimeng color printed calico to future generations.

He is said to be the only folk craftsman currently that is equally adept at Yimeng calico plate making, plate engraving, color mixing, printing and other techniques in the country.

Color printed calico is a time-honored folk handicraft, stretching back to the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC) and it was super prevalent during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It features ornate handmade printed cloth with dazzling patterns on it.

Zhang, 75, began his career in color printed calico in his youth, in the wake of three years of assiduous training. In that time, he has managed to recreate some of the old patterns and made a wealth of brilliant works on his own – including themes for the 12 zodiac symbols and mythological tales.

Master Zhang has carefully passed down the unique and precious craft to his son – to promote and improve it through national exhibitions. In addition, he has organized courses for color printed calico enthusiasts, so that the ancient technique can be inherited.


The brightly hued and ornate cloth is seen as auspicious and it is used to wrap things during traditional weddings. [Photo by Xing Ziqin for chinadaily.com.cn]