Cannot stop carving
Fascinated by root carving, Gong Zhenxin, a craftsman from Jiaozhou, Qingdao, is planning to build a gallery for free visiting
International Daily News
Web Editor:International Daily News
In the opinion of root carving artists, tree roots are the best raw materials. After elaborate carving, the previous dull roots are given a new life. Since the moment he is fascinated by root carving, Gong Zhenxin, a 56-year-old root carving artist in Jiaozhou, Qingdao, has created thousands of root carving works for over 40 years.
When we walked into the home of Gong Zhenxin, we saw dozens of ornamental plant bonsai placed in this ordinary farmyard and strange shaped tree roots piled up in the wall corner. In his workshop, there were many root carving works on the showing stand including many lifelike animal and plant-shaped works such as peacocks, eagles, elephants, apes, cabbages, grapes, and more. According to Gong Zhenxin, he was born in the family of carpenters. Both his great-grandfather and grandfather were well-known carpenters in his hometown and had exquisite skills of making classical furniture and root carving. In the 1950s and 1960s, Gong Zhitian, his grandfather, was very respected in Xinan Town, Jiaozhou and called “Ling Zi Men”. Particularly air bellows made by him were sold out at home for being very strong and durable. After graduation from his junior middle school, Gong Zhenxin formally studied the craftsmanship from his family members and since then he is enchanted with root carving.
“Wood carving and root carving differ a lot. Wood carving was done knife by knife and the original shape is completely lost while root carving pursues minimum caring traces and maintain the original state as much as possible.” According to Gong Zhenxin, root carving is a kind of art of creating images including figures, animals and wares through conception, artistic processing, craft treatment by using the natural shape and deformed shape of tree roots including trunk, burl and bamboo root. Root carving is based 30% on human craft and 70% on natural form. Use the natural form to express artistic images and artificial treatment and embellishing is only auxiliary.
“There are not too many procedures for root carving. But a long time is needed to create a satisfactory work,” Gong Zhenxin said. He elaborated that root carving needed to undergo these procedures, including raw material selection, shaping, ungreasing, peeling and cleaning, dehydration and drying, getting into shape, fine processing, tempering, painting and naming. Roots must be selected among tree varieties with hard texture, fine, smooth and stable wood property, low likelihood of cracking and deformation, a long preserving time without moths eating and rotting them, and these varieties included elm, pagoda tree, ebony tree, jujube tree and boxtree. Roots growing among rock tunnels are the best raw materials for root carving because of all sorts of strange shapes.
“I insist on root carving for over 40 years and have totally created thousands of root carving works.” Gong Zhenxin said he was currently planning to build “Zhe Yan Xuan Root Carving Hall” where the works created by him with care for so many years can be displayed. The hall will be open free of charge and provide a mutual communication platform for root carving enthusiasts. Ma Bingzheng
(1. Gong Zhenxin was showing his work named Eagle Spreading Wings.