Dongyang, a city in the middle of Zhejiang Province near Shanghai, is famous for its woodcarving. It is one of the major centers of woodcarving production from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties to the present day. Woodcarving in Dongyang has a long history and was named after its place of origin, Dongyang.
Dongyang woodcarving had already developed to a certain level by the Tang Dynasty(618-907), but was most prosperous in the last two feudal dynasties — the Ming（1368－1644）and the Qing（1644－1911）.
The magnificent woodcarvings can be found in the imperial palaces in Beijing, Suzhou City, Hangzhou City and Anhui Province. During the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong(1711-1799), over 400 craftsmen came to the capital of Beijing to decorate the palaces and carve the lanterns. Those woodcarving articles are still kept in Gugong, the Imperial Palace in Beijing.
After 1910, many carvers from Dongyong gathered in Shanghai and Hangzhou to produce export-oriented furniture and utensils combining Chinese and Western styles. Since the founding of the PRC, highly artistic frescoes and screens appeared on the market with the rapid development of technology. These works, focusing on historical stories and folk legends were designed using the ‘full carving’ technique, which formed a unique artistic style.
In 1957, a 19-meter high wooden statue of Sakyamuni Buddha was sculpted for the main hall of Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou. In 1983, Dongyang City was named “the hometown of Chinese woodcarving” by the state council.
The artistic forms of Dongyang woodcarving with distinct gradations and superb carving technology are unique in the handicraft and art fields.
Dongyang woodcarving, also called “white woodcarving” (white is the natural color of the wood) is second to none in terms of Chinese crafts. In terms of techniques, Dongyang woodcarving features a high relief, multi-layers, and a rich composition of pictures, presenting a third dimension, full yet in neat order.
Dongyang woodcarving emphasizes relief skill; uses the traditional experience of a discreet, bird’s-eye perspective of the structure; stresses round composition; considers dispersion and multiplicity without looseness or disorder. Moreover, it has other features such as distinct gradations, obvious subjects and expressive plots which often help to tell a larger story.
Dongyang woodcarving is mainly used to decorate houses and furniture with mainly realistic depictions of galloping horses, cranes, lotus flowers and human figures.
Nowadays, the assortment of Dongyang woodcarving products amount to more than 2,700 varieties, most of which — covering ninety percent of total output value — are daily wares such as cases, cabinets, stools, desks and tables. They are exported to over 50 countries and regions, while involving thousands of craftsmen in that industry.
by Xiao Xiao email@example.com
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