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July 17, 2012

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Auction aims to help preserve skills of cultural heritage artisans

SHANGHAI will auction more than 100 artworks that are representative of the city's intangible cultural heritage for the first time on Sunday to help promote the continuation of many endangered local skills, officials said yesterday.

The 114 works to be auctioned include purple clay teapots, Jinshan District farmer's paintings, wood and stone carving, paper-cutting works and Chinese traditional instruments. All of them were made by important craftsmen and representatives of the traditional skills.

"The auction aims to find a profitable way for the endangered traditional skills to help them to survive and be recognized by the society," Wang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV, said at a press conference yesterday.

The city has a total of 157 traditional skills named as an intangible cultural heritage and one third of them are recognized at the national level.

But 40 percent of the artisans fail to adequately market them and make them profitable, pushing many skills to the edge of extinction, said Gao Chunming, deputy director of the city's intangible cultural heritages protection center, an organization under the administration.

"The heirs of these skills are successful artists but many of them are unsuccessful businessmen," Gao said.

He said the city will hold the auction annually if the artworks prove to be popular among local residents and collectors at the first trial.

"I have never thought my paper-cutting works can be put under the hammer and I believe the auction can greatly promote the status of the traditional skills," said Wang Jianzhong, a master of the Shanghai style of paper cutting who inherited the skills from his father.

Wang said he was worried that his works, with base prices around 2,000 yuan, might attract fewer buyers at the auction compared with jade carving or teapots, but he believed the skills would have greater influence through the auction.

Many artists have also lowered the prices to enable normal residents to collect their favorite works, said Gao.

Some purple clay teapots from famous local master Xu Sihai, for instance, will be auctioned starting at 8,000 yuan this time, though Xu said they could be sold at over 20,000 in international markets.

"Promoting the country's traditional tea culture is more important than to make more money to me," the 66-year-old artist told Shanghai Daily.

The auction will be held at 9:30am on Sunday at the Liu Haisu Art Museum on No.1660 Hongqiao Road. People from both home and abroad may take part in the auction with deposit of 100,000 yuan (US$15,700).

A preview of the artwork is set for the museum from Thursday through Saturday.


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