Dunhuang heritage still alive in new age

Updated: 2015-09-10 09:51

By Bi Nan(chinadaily.com.cn)

Dunhuang heritage still alive in new age

Sculptures made by Du Yongwei in his workshop in Dunhuang, Gansu province. [Photo by Qin Fengjing/provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Modernizing the traditional way of making sculptures

Du Yongwei is a local sculptor creating Dunhuang colored sculptures. He is one of a few left who still use the traditional methods inherited from ancestors.

The traditional manner means first using red willow from the Gobi desert to make a frame, filled with needlegrass and reed. This is then molded with Dengban soil. All materials are sourced locally and the sculptures produced can last for more than 1,000 years, like the sculptures in the Mogao Grottoes. The technique was listed as a provincial intangible cultural heritage of Gansu province in 2008.

Du is now considering how to use traditional techniques to create new-style sculptures which can combine the essence of the old with modern beauty.

He tries using metal and soil to create sculptures such as flying Apsaras and other characters which are popular.

He is also teaching art students the traditional technique and invites them to his workshop for hands-on experience. As there are only a few artists still using the traditional technique, he is worried, saying: "I hope the traditional techniques can keep being handed down and I'm making my best efforts for that".