Palm-leaf fans art
2012-September-12 Source: www.lifeofguangzhou.com
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Palm-leaf fans art is one of the most famous traditional crafts - sitting alongside embroidery in Guangzhou city, pottery in Foshan city, porcelain in Chaozhou city and lacquer in Yangjiang city.

For over 1600 years, villagers in Xing Hui county have made a living by creating and selling beautiful fans made out of palm leaves. It is one of the most famous traditional crafts - sitting alongside embroidery in Guangzhou city, pottery in Foshan city, porcelain in Chaozhou city and lacquer in Yangjiang city.

There are three designs of palm-leaf fans- the traditional design fans, weaved fans and those created with iron. The iron fans are the most difficult to produce, requiring great skill and experience.

 

For example, Guan Shanyue, one of the renowned Lingnan School painters, has tried to create the iron palm-leaf fans over 60 times. All his attempts have ended with the fan catching fire.

Besides, the iron fans must be made using two folded leaf buds. The most exquisite ones require two leaf buds exactly the same size. To find these, the makers have to search over 2000 palm leaves.

To create the weaved fans is slightly easier. The creators dry the whole palm leaf in the sun, then rip it into small strips. These strips are weaved into the shape of the fan and embroidered with patterns.

 

Palm-leaf fans have been given as tributes to royalty since the Ming dynasty. Replaced by air conditioning and electric fans, palm-leaf fans are now only a renowned and beautiful art-form.

Therefore recently demand and therefore production has greatly decreased. For the 2008 Olympics, over 50,000 palm leaf fans were ordered. Unfortunately, the villagers struggled to cope with such a large order and could not complete it due to a lack of skilled workers.

A skilled technician needs to spend one day to make a fan worth RMB 10. This is not enough to maintain the management of the palm-leaf fan industry.

This tragedy highlights the fact that palm-leaf fans are not only elaborate hand-made crafts, but also an ancient and endangered art.

Editor: Miranda
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