Tipping the balance in favor of traditional craftsmanship

By Zhu Lixin and Ma Chenguang ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-03-18 09:25:54

Tipping the balance in favor of traditional craftsmanship

Liu Guangcui runs a steelyard shop in Xiaomiao township in Hefei. The woman continues to practice the traditional craft of making the balances, which she learned from her father, despite shrinking demand for handmade steelyards.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Liu says she sold only 130 steelyards last year, which by no means encourages her to keep her business going.

Many buyers nowadays buy the steelyards not for weighing but for their cultural importance.

In Chinese, steelyard is pronounced cheng, which sounds similar to the word for "content".

In traditional Chinese weddings, the bride uses a piece of red cloth as a veil, and to unveil the red cloth, the groom often uses the beam of a steelyard instead of his hands, showing that he is "content with his wife".

"Though rare now, traditional weddings can still be seen in rural areas, so the steelyards are needed," says Liu, adding that there are also customers buying steelyards for collection purposes in the fear that they may disappear in the future.

"It is also my fear, but it seems I can do little to change the situation," she adds.

Video: Story of traditional Chinese steelyard craftsman

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