Going back to root causes

Updated: 2013-06-13 10:02

By Deng Zhangyu (China Daily)

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Going back to root causes

Going back to root causes

Liu Yiheng, owner of Daziran root carving factory in Lushan county, shows a carved Buddha which was damaged during the quake. Photos by Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

Going back to root causes

Lives on pause

Going back to root causes

A quake survivor's tale

When disaster strikes, some things must be put on hold. In Sichuan, the recent earthquake shattered many lives, and also damaged a time-honored craft. Deng Zhangyu reports from Lushan county.

The drive for profit often comes before all else, but in the face of disaster, it has to take a backseat as people's priorities shift from making money to rebuilding their devastated lives. Such is the case in Lushan county in Sichuan province where a maganitude-7 quake hit in April.

In a street lined with hundreds of root carving shops, piles of muted dark ebony wood lie neglected.

This is not just any wood, but a semi-fossilized species of local hardwood that has been lying at the bottom of the great rivers for thousands of years. They are mainly found in Sichuan province, especially in areas not far away from Lushan.

In Lushan, carvings displayed in shop windows along the "root-carving street" are all made from this precious wood, which has been turned into tea sets, decorative sculptures and furniture.

Residents here are proud that this is the biggest ebony-root carving market in China.

Now, however, they are concentrating on rebuilding their ruined homes. The root carving industry will have to wait its turn to be revived.

"Some workers at my factory have gone home to rebuild their houses. I've been busy repairing my shop and factory since the quake," says Wang Linkang, standing by a pile of ebony at the factory behind his shop.

The walls of his factory had collapsed. The walls of the display section of his shop had cracked. Many of his carvings were also damaged during the quake.

Lushan was above the epicenter of the quake and was subsequently the worst hit.

The root carvings at Wang's shop cost from several thousand to hundreds of thousands yuan. Most items averaged about 40,000 yuan ($6,500), says the 43-year-old entrepreneur.

Wang has been in business for more than 10 years, and he says the boom only came about two years ago when the demand for the ebony carvings started soaring. Business had been especially good this year before the quake hit.

"The quake destroyed it. Our clients will not come. People involved in the business have to rebuild their houses first," says Wang, whose factory has about 10 workers.

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