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21 March 2022, 12:07

Craftsman in Shanxi brings ancient painted Buddhist sculptures back to life


SHANXI, 21 March (BelTA - Xinhua). - Shi Yanchun, an inheritor of the traditional techniques for crafting painted sculptures, has remained devoted to restoring painted sculptures leftover from the ancient past in north China's Shanxi Province for over two decades, bringing these valuable cultural relics back to life.

Shi started his restoration career in 1998 when he was invited by a local department for cultural relics in Changzhi city, Shanxi to restore a Bodhisattva statue in Faxing Temple, a key cultural heritage site in the city under state protection. Since then, he has participated in the restoration work for a handful of key cultural relics across the country, such as the Yungang Grottoes in Datong city, Shuxiang Temple on Mount Wutai, and Longquan Temple in Taiyuan city, as well as restoring over 1,000 individual cultural relics throughout the province.

“I'd call my work re-creation rather than restoration,” Shi said. “Restorers cannot deviate from the original art's style, and must master the techniques and use of materials in the original work, which is quite challenging,” he added.

The restoration work at the No. 10 grotto of the Yungang Grottoes is just one example. “The main Buddha statue no longer exists, so my colleagues and I recreated one, whose color and style conform to its adjacent statues,” he recalled. Together with some new technologies and contributions by some experts, they completed the task successfully.

In addition, he has also given lectures in different parts of the country, having established an institute on painted sculpture in Changzhi, which has organized academic forums on inheriting the techniques of traditional Chinese sculpturing.

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