Yangquan man dedicated to traditional porcelain
Ge Yinping makes a piece of Pingding-carved porcelain in Yangquan. [Photo/Yangquan Daily]
From once being an ignorant apprentice who played with mud to becoming a master of arts and crafts, Ge Yinping – from Pingding county, administered by Yangquan city in North China's Shanxi province – has now passed on the millennium-old artistic technique of Pingding-carved porcelain for four decades.
Pingding ceramics, with a history going back some 4,000 years, has a unique and vital position in the development of Chinese ceramics. In particular, Pingding-carved ceramics are famous for their unique materials, complex firing process, as well as simple and natural style.
In 1983, one year after graduating from junior high school, Ge Yinping worked in the Guanzhuang Porcelain Factory in Pingding county on the recommendation of his school teacher. He studied ceramic modeling and design with the masters in the factory, becoming attached to carved porcelain.
With continuous learning and experience, Ge's craftsmanship of carved porcelain has gradually been improved.
"Year after year with carved porcelain, I fell in love with the unique art from the bottom of my heart and it has become an inseparable part of my life," Ge said.
"I dreamed of becoming a skilled craftsman of carved porcelain," he added.
With the encouragement, help and guidance of the masters of the factory and experts in the arts and crafts circle, Ge established a workshop and a kiln for the production of carved porcelain in his own yard.
There, he innovated while adhering to the essence of tradition. He combined traditional ceramics shapes with modern pottery art, adding Chinese classics and his own philosophy on the basis of traditional design content. He also integrated paper-cut skills with carving skills, which endowed the carved porcelain with greater charm and cultural connotations.
"Making carved porcelain is a delicate job and needs patience: It takes one month to several months to complete a large carved porcelain piece with difficult patterns and complex shapes," Ge said.
Through trial and error, each piece of carved porcelain has completed a magnificent transformation with Ge's perseverance.
His carved porcelain production and creations have ushered in a golden period since 2006, as China attached great importance to the protection and development of traditional handicrafts, and Pingding-carved porcelain was listed as intangible cultural heritage items under provincial protection.
He has been specializing in carved porcelain designs and production at Pingding Ancient Kiln Ceramics Co and Shanxi Jinmingtang Culture Technology Co since 2007, where his talent and expertise have been lauded.
Many of his works have been collected by various museums, including the Chinese National Museum of Ethnology and the Jinshang Museum. A piece of his, named Flower of the Nation, received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts. In 2022, Ge won the National May 1 Labor Medal.
"Pingding-carved porcelain is a treasure handed down by our ancestors and we have a responsibility to protect and develop it well," Ge said.
Over the years, he has been imparting his knowledge and has cultivated quite a few disciples with superb skill, while honoring the craftsmanship of carved porcelain.
In his opinion, most young people in his workplace are willing to learn the traditional craft and the future of Pingding-carved porcelain is promising with these younger generations.