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Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development

Chinese opera figures on leather


65-year-old Wang Huaimin in northeastern China’s Jilin City has carved many Chinese opera figures on leather. He has carved Chinese woman warrior Mu Guiying and the Monkey King on leather, as well as animals, integrating creative calligraphy and handmade leather art.

The retired soldier started to learn leather carving in 1976 with the painting knowledge he learned as a child. He was later inspired to integrate fine art, cutting, carving, and woodwork to innovate the technique.

The “Monkey King” is 50 centimeters in height. It is Wang’s first leather carving work, and he spent a lot of time and effort on the details. “The leather has to be resilient so that the art work can remain visible and lustrous for a long time,” Wang explained.

“Mu Guiying” is one of the works that he takes most pride in. The work is 58 centimeters in height and 36 centimeters in width. “The head part was very difficult to carve. Her hair is also made of leather, and they had to be fixed and made softer in color,” Wang recalled.

Born in a county of Manchu people, Wang said the time-honored craft is rare these days. He hopes to create a series of works to showcase the uniqueness of Manchu culture.

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