Yellow River pebble carving
Yellow River pebble carving, or Lanzhou pebble carving, is a work of art made from etching designs into the Yellow River pebbles using a machine.
The birth of pebble carving was influenced by local culture and tourism.
“Tourists always pick up some pebbles as a reminder of their trip to the Yellow River, but the raw pebble is a bit plain and homely, so the pebble carving came into being as a processing of the Yellow River stone,” said Chen Yipo, deputy secretary of the Gansu Arts and Crafts Association.
Invented in 1974 by Qin Xinwei, a jade carver from the Gansu Art and Design Factory, the stone’s popularity has fluctuated over the years. A factory began mass production of the pebble carving, which seemed rather promising at that time. The production, however, came to a halt in the 1980s when the factory went into restructuring.
Now fewer and fewer people are dedicated to the art of pebble carving.
Pebble carving requires the knowledge of painting techniques and the use of a carving machine that not many people know how to operate, said Zhong Hao, a local artist who has been devoted to pebble carving for years.
The low profit from the pebble art also ended its development.
“The pebble carving is a cultural product rather than a necessity. Since Gansu is underdeveloped, the product does not yield as much profit as to match the work dedicated to the production. Thus fewer and fewer people want to have a hand in it,” Chen Yipo said.
Artist Zhong Hao often makes inkstone on the side to support his interest in the pebble carving. He wishes to hold an exhibition of his pebble carvings to draw attention to the artistic treasure.