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Rugao craftsman cuts out new life on paper


Updated: 2021-01-12

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Chen Yao showcases his work welcoming the Year of the Ox. [Photo/xdkb.net]

Upon entering the paper-cutting workshop owned by Chen Yao in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, visitors are often struck by a wall covered in paper-cuttings featuring famous places in the city.

From the Nanjing Eye Footbridge to Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, each piece of work took Chen about two weeks to design and produce.

The 58-year-old was born in Baipu town, Rugao and started learning local paper-cutting techniques from his neighbor, a sophisticated craftsman surnamed Xu, at the age of 5.

The ancient art form changed from a simple hobby to his source of income in 1997, after a car accident left his legs paralyzed and the factory he worked at closed down. He started his own business in Nanjing in 2000.

Through years of hard work, his workshop has expanded from an initial three-square-meter space to the current 40 sq m, and his work has been shared at the 2010 Shanghai Expo and the 2015 Milan Expo.

Chen was also named a national senior craft artist and awarded for his contributions to the development of Chinese folk art.

He is a guest professor at several universities in Nanjing and has given free lectures in his hometown in hopes that the ancient art form will be passed down to younger generations.