Post-90s “Dazu Sculptors”
CHONGQING (CQNEWS) -- Around the 2023 Spring Festival, Jiangtan Park, Yabadong, Nan’an District, Chongqing went viral on the Internet. “Heroes” behind the scenes of giant stone carvings are a group of stone sculptors from Dazu District, Chongqing, and they are also called “Dazu Sculptors”. As the labor service brand in Dazu District, “Dazu Sculptors” drive the local employment of over 110,000 people surrounding the upstream and downstream stone carving industries, with annual revenue of 20 billion yuan.
In Jiangtan Park, Yabadong, Nan’an District, Chongqing, the stone carving is tentatively called “Yangtze River • the Ballad of Mother”. Its model is a mother swimming, surrounded by 11 children smiling. The length of the stone carving is over 63 meters, meaning that the Yangtze River is over 6,300 kilometers long.
Duan Yong, President of the Dazu District Stone Carving Association, Chongqing, introduced that the mother image of the stone carving represents the Yangtze River and the 11 children represent 11 provinces and cities along the river. Under the mother’s care, the children run to the sea and to the world. More than 30 “Dazu Sculptors” participated in this work successively.
Yang Jiasheng who was born in 1994 is one of the creators of “Yangtze River • the Ballad of Mother”. Even though he is so young, this year marks the 13th year since he learned stone carving and worked on it. The calluses on his hands and the wounds on his abdomen are the imprints of his work as a stone sculptor.
As Yang Jiasheng’s father has been engaging in stone carving, from a young age, he helped out whenever he could. After graduated from the junior high school, he simply started to learn how to carve stone lions from his father and took up stone carving.
However, with the time developing, the stone carving industry is changing quietly. Demand for engineering stone carving projects is increasing in the market. The traditional stone carving craft is time-consuming and laborious and it is easy to get hurt. Therefore, Yang Jiasheng (right) intended to learn digital carving but he never found the time. Su Zhongming (left), a traditional stone sculptor, is also thinking about how to adapt traditional stone carving to the modern market.
In 2020, in a process of cutting stone, Yang Jiasheng accidentally cut himself in the abdomen. Since he couldn't put forth his strength during the recuperation period, he took the opportunity to learn CNC carving in Shandong. He found that the combination of CNC carving and traditional carving can save more labor costs. After returning to Dazu, he immediately bought CNC carving equipment, importing the model into the CNC carving machine after programming on the computer and 3D modeling. In this way, he saved the initial modeling time of stone carving.
Over the next two years, more than ten people joined his team successively. They improved the production efficiency of stone carving by 30% and reduced the costs by about 30% through CNC carving technology. Taking a sculpture 80 centimeters high as an example, it takes at least 1 month to carve it by hand while it just takes half a month to complete the later carving with CNC.
There are many young sculptors like Yang Jiasheng. Shao Lei aged 28 this year also belongs to the post-90s generation. Having been engaging in jade carving for 10 years, he is currently serving as a teacher of Dazu Vocational Education Center, mainly responsible for students' jade carving courses. A jade plate will gradually become an excellent work of art after one month of carving by him.
The girl with the ponytail sitting aside is called Wang Yue, 20 years old this year. She is Shao Lei’s student. Each time she is carving, she is too preoccupied to be disturbed.
“Thrum, thrum, thrum…” There was the sound of a chisel on stone when you just arrived at the gate of the training base. The carving teacher Yang Shengcai was giving a lesson to students. He said that these students are the post-00s generation, and they are Stone Carving students of Dazu Vocational Education Center.
In recent years, “Dazu Sculptors” has been become one of nationwide famous labor brands, training more than 3,500 “Dazu Sculptors” annually. “Sculptors” can achieve the effect of “carving stones into gold” piece by piece. The overall commercial value of Dazu Rock Carvings has been greatly improved.
The journalist found in the interviews that young people are carrying the banner of “Dazu Sculptors” as post-90s and post-00s generations constantly join. They both inherit the spirit of stone sculptors and introduce CNC carving and other modern technology into stone carving. They are innovatively inheriting the thousand-year craftsmanship of Dazu Rock Carvings using the carving knife in their hands. (Translated by Li Na, Fathom Language Limited)