Ni Dongfang carves a stone. [Photo/zj.zjol.com.cn]
Ni Dongfang, a 93-year-old retiree, spends at least two hours every day studying and practicing stone carvings at his home in Qingtian county, Zhejiang province.
Ni is regarded as the greatest artist of Qingtian Stone Carvings, one of the first national-level intangible cultural heritage items. He holds the titles of "China's Industrial Art Master" and "Representative Inheritor of National-Level Intangible Cultural Heritage Items".
Many of Ni's artworks have been included into the collections of the National Museum of China. In 2006, the China Arts and Crafts Association granted Ni the "Lifetime Achievement Award for China's Industrial Art".
Qingtian Stone Carvings, made of Qingtian's unique stone materials, traces its origin to 1,700 years ago and the art matured during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The artworks of Qingtian Stone Carvings were often selected as tributes to emperors and national exhibits at international fairs during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Ni learned the stone carving skills from his mother in his youth. In 1955, Ni became a full-time artisan of stone carvings at the age of 28 at a newly established dedicated factory in Qingtian and he has been working there ever since.
Ni was addicted to stone carvings throughout his life. In the early 1980s, he spent all his savings and sold his jewelry to buy a single stone of top quality.
Ni's most famous artwork is Blooming Flowers and Full Moon, which is arguably the most well-known among all Qingtian Stone Carvings in general. In 1992, China Post adopted it as the pattern for a special stamp to be published nationwide. In 2016, Ni donated the renowned piece to the Qingtian Stone Carvings Museum.
Blooming Flowers and Full Moon, created by Ni Dongfang, is the most well-known masterpiece of Qingtian Stone Carvings. [Photo/zj.zjol.com.cn]