Dongyang is a Chinese city in the center of Zhejiang Province, about 200 kilometers south of Hangzhou, reputed for producing some of the most elegant woodcarvings in the world. This ancient art goes back by more than 1,300 years at the time of the Tang Dynasty. In the Song Dynasty, it became highly developed as an art, and reached its peak in the period of Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. Dongyang woodcarving is characterized by high relief, multi-layers, and a rich composition of pictures, presenting the third dimension. The carvings often told stories from history and Chinese literary classics and poems, others reflected local customs.
Examples of Dongyang’s magnificent woodcarvings can be found throughout the imperial palaces in Beijing, Suzhou City, Hangzhou City and Anhui Province. During the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong in the 1700s, hundreds of craftsmen came to the capital of Beijing to decorate the palaces and carve the lanterns. Those woodcarving articles are present to this date in the Imperial Palace in Beijing.
Modern architecture has almost uprooted this centuries old tradition. Many skillful carvers gave up the career and the craft was reduced to the making of souvenirs and decorative pieces. Dongyang woodcarving is still used, but only to decorate houses and furniture with realistic depictions of galloping horses, cranes, lotus flowers and human figures.
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