Fanning the flames of tradition

Updated: 2016-07-16 04:09

By XU JUNQIAN in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Once used as a status symbol and luxury accessory in China, traditional fans are now making a comeback in the world of antique collection, thanks to a group of craftsmen from Suzhou 

Fanning the flames of tradition

Fans that have good craftsmanship and intricate designs are highly sought after by collectors and can cost tens of thousands of yuan. Photos provided to China Daily, photos by gao erqiang / China Daily

It is the middle of June in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and the temperature is at a stifling 32 degrees Celcius.

Inside his two-story studio, large beads of sweat trickle down Wang Jian's wrinkled forehead. Within this cosy space, dozens of folding fans lie around, some in their unfinished state. But the Suzhou native is not using any of them to get some reprieve from the heat.

Made using paper and bamboo, these fans cost at least 15,000 yuan ($2,244) a piece, about five times the price of a standard air-conditioning unit in China. There is no upper limit to the cost of these delicate handicrafts, each of which takes approximately a month to craft.

Arguably China's most well-known maker of folding fans, Wang thinks that his creations are actually underpriced considering people's average incomes these days. Back during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the time when folding fans peaked in terms of popularity and diversity in China, such creations were considered treasures.

Local fan retailers, tour guides and avid fan collectors have lavished praise on Wang throughout the years. The 51-year-old's creations are so sought after that some even say that it is serendipity, and not money, that gets you one of his fans.

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