Saturday, 27 September 2014

A stone carving master

Ni Tongfang, a grandmaster in stone carving, is famous for producing master pieces in  qintian stone carvings. His famous masterpiece, Moon and Flowers, was declared national treasure and featured in a stamp issued in 1992. The moon is actually 2 cm thick and comprised of the finest qintian stone that is flawless. The rest of the stone is carved into leaves, branches, flowers and birds.

He started work in the stone carving factory as a stone cutter at the age of 30 earning 28 RMB (dollars) a month. As he was fascinated with the art of stone carvings, he often watched older masters carving the stones. After 3 years as a stone cutter, he asked for a transfer to the stone carving section with a pay of 24 RMB a month ( a pay cut of 4 RMB). As an apprentice, he worked very hard to mater all the skills in the trade from all the masters at the factory. He used to go to the factory very early in the morning and leave very late. As he was humble and diligent, all the masters were willing to transfer their skills to him. Soon he became famous and began to design his own masterpieces.

He treasured all the stones in his possession. He studied them carefully before starting to carve as he did not want to waste this natural resource. He could even wait a few years before carving just to make sure he knew what he wanted. Some stones were so perfect (in shapes) that he left them in their original conditions (without carving them); he just engraved some characters and his name on the stones. He commented that it was better not to change the stones' natural beauty.

Later he started his own show-room where he exhibited all his works. He name this place Shi Si Zai (place where stones are treasured). People often offer him great prices yet he refuses to part with his works. You can imagine who he treasures all the stone cravings he designed and created.

Here is a collection of some of his works on display in his show-room.


Looking at these marvelous carvings, I instantly fall I love with the traditional stone carvings. Don't you have the same craze over these art pieces? However, these masterpieces are often beyond the reach of ordinary collectors.

One renown collector commented that a grandmaster once asked for a deposit of 1.2 million RMB before he even started work. He would normally spent a few months just looking at the stone for inspiration. Once he got an idea, he would then take a couple of months to complete his masterpiece. Then he would tell you how much he would charge you for his creation. Don't forget, very good raw material may cost you  a few millions in RMB. This is what a investors in fine stone carvings are prepared to pay to acquired fine pieces for their collection. Just like the masterpiece shown below. 
Ordinary stone turned into a spectacular work of art

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