In the first and second months of lunar calendar, Nian Li is being celebrated around the city of Maoming. For Master Liu Weijin who is specialized in making paper boat for Nian Li celebration, he is extremely busy during this period.
Born and living in Shatian Town, Liu Weijin is a famous craftsman for making good paper boat for Nian Li celebration in Gaozhou. Liu inherited the craftsmanship from his parents who learned from his grandparents. Now Liu makes more than 100 paper boats for different villages every year.
The paper boat for Nian Li celebration is also called “flower dragon paper boat” in Gaozhou. People carry a flower dragon paper boat in the parade during Nian Li, and burn it after all the celebrations at the end of the day, hoping to expel plague, get rid of demon and praying for peace, prosperity, good weather and good life.
Due to complicated craftsmanship and too many procedures, Liu has to start making the boats months ahead Nian Li period.
The boats are different in shapes and sizes in different villages. Generally speaking, it is about 4 meters long, and 6 meters tall.
A flower dragon paper boat is usually made of paper, bamboo and wood. It is composed of three parts, namely castle, hull and sedan. It is supported by the sedan which should be made super solidly, so it can be put on the floor steadily and be carried around and around at a high intensity.
The craftsmanship involves painting, calligraphy, paper cutting, embroidering, bamboo weaving and so on. Procedures contain choosing materials, chopping bamboo, drying the materials, splitting the bamboo, shaping the boat, cutting paper mold, carving patterns, painting patterns and animal images, pasting paper dolls, embroidering flowers and so on.
Because the boat is very large, it is hard to store or transport in whole. Therefore, it is usually divided into parts for storage and transportation.