Carving out a specialty
A wooden statue of a Bodhisattva carved by Wu in 2019. [Photo provided to China Daily]
It is not surprising that Wu, who became interested in handicrafts in childhood, learned the craft at 16. At first, he learned the skills from his cousin, and then by working in a local company established by You Liangzhao, a master of wood carving in Xianyou. He worked for the company for more than two decades, but in recent years, he has branched out on his own.
His carving covers a wide range of subjects, including Buddhist statues and artistic works depicting famous paintings, legends, historical stories and musical instruments. He cannot remember how many works he has created over the years, but they have been sold to many places in China, and to countries like Singapore and Malaysia.
Xianyou wood carving features simplicity and conciseness. The materials craftsmen use are often expensive with special textures and complicated patterns, and the Xianyou craft aims to give full play to the beauty of the wood itself.
"Carving wood requires much patience. You need to observe the original wood, consider your plan, roughly draw the patterns and begin to carve. You need to polish the work slowly and repeatedly to make it good," says Wu.
"Artistic works are flexible and have no fixed standards. Therefore, I often need to think of the plan for a long time, while I try to find the best possible way to make it," he adds.