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November 27, 2021

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Quest to save a dying intangible cultural heritage

COCONUT carving, one of China’s national intangible cultural heritage, has a history of thousands of years in south China’s Hainan Province. Made of coconut shell, wood and palm, a good coconut carving work needs to go through complicated procedures, and requires refined skills and great patience.

Ke Qiufeng, 51, has been involved in coconut carving since 1994, when he began to learn the skill in a factory.

“I just fell in love with it at first sight,” he said. In Ke’s eyes, no matter whether he is making a decorative painting, delicate vase or just a bowl people use every day, it’s a piece of art.

“You must be extremely focused when you are carving, or you will get hurt by the knife,” he said.

After years of hard work, Ke has been selected as a representative inheritor of Hainan coconut carvings at the provincial level.

In addition to making coconut carvings, Ke gives weekly lectures to students at Hainan Vocational University in Haikou, the provincial capital.

Seeing fewer and fewer people devoting themselves to this traditional skill, Ke is more worried than anyone.

“The skill of coconut carving has been inherited for thousands of years. It would be a pity if it was lost in our generation. That’s why I need to keep it alive,” he said.


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