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No animals harmed in ivory carver's art

AN ivory carver, Li Bingcheng, faced many questions about where he got his raw materials and how many animals had died to enable his art when he displayed his craft at the Baosteel Stage yesterday as part of the Guangdong Week.

It was the question on almost all his visitors' lips and he had to patiently explain time and time again that all the ivory he used came from elephants that had died naturally. Ivory sculpture was fully environmentally friendly and did not go against the theme of the Expo, Li told everyone who stopped to watch him at work.

Li is following in a family tradition.

One of his ancestors won a gold medal at the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 for an ivory dragon ball with 25 levels of stencil patterns.

Li brought a new work by his father and himself - an ivory ball with an astonishing 57 levels of patterns.

"I want every visitor to realize that ivory sculpture is a traditional Chinese culture that has 1,000 years' history and had never killed elephants," he said.

Li said a single piece of ivory could produce up to 100 art works, but each piece would take him about three months, so his art did not use a great deal of ivory.

The ivory dragon ball he had on display, which was 17 centimeters in diameter, was part of the tusk from an African elephant who died at over 100 years old, Li said.

Visitors can see the ball at the stage until the end of the province's promotion week on Monday.

He and his 78-year-old father spent more than 20 years on its carving and the ball is valued at more than 5 million yuan (US$737,585), said Li.

Another of their dragon balls is exhibited at the The Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The Guangdong Week features traditional dances of south China and the lion and dragon dances that are popular in the province. The dances will be staged at the Baosteel Stage at 10am, 2pm and 4:30pm each day. The lion dances can also be seen at the Celebration Square in Pudong along the Huangpu River.


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