Wood carving

Home Culture 2019-06-06

Wood carving

Wood sculpture is a kind of sculpture, which is often called "folk craft" in our country. Wood carving can be divided into three categories: solid round carving, root carving and relief carving. Wood carving is a kind of work separated from woodworking, which is classified as "fine woodworking" in our country.

Varieties of folk art classified by carving materials. Generally, the tree species with fine and tough texture and not easy to deform, such as Nanmu, Rosewood, Camphor, Cypress, Ginkgo biloba, aloes, mahogany, longan and so on, are selected. The natural form of tree root carving works of art is "tree root carving". Wood carving has round carving, relief, carving or several techniques combined. Some are also painted and colored to protect wood and beautify.

On June 7, 2008, woodcarving was approved by the State Council to be included in the second batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.

Historical Evolution


Generally speaking, Chinese wood carving art originated from the Neolithic Age.

But in fact, wood carving, like other sculpture arts, is accompanied by the emergence of human beings; only at the beginning is an unconscious behavior, until people have aesthetic, wood carving really becomes an art.

Wood carving art originated in Neolithic China. More than 7,000 years ago, the Hemudu culture in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, has appeared wood carving fish. The woodcarving technology of Qin and Han Dynasties tended to be mature, and the painting and carving techniques were exquisite and perfect. The appearance of colored wood carving marks that the ancient wood carving technology has reached a fairly high level.

The Tang Dynasty was a period of great brilliance in Chinese craft and technology, and the woodcarving technology was becoming more and more perfect. Many wooden Buddha statues preserved to this day are masterpieces of ancient Chinese art. They have the characteristics of concise shape, fluent knife technique and clear and bright lines, and become the "darlings" in the art market at home and abroad. Wood carvings in Ming and Qing Dynasties were mostly about life customs and myths, such as auspicious festivals, abundant grain, auspicious dragons and phoenixes, peaceful and satisfactory, pine cranes and other wood carvings, which were welcomed by the society at that time.

Wood carvings are various and complex. After hundreds of years of development, the major schools have formed their own unique craft style, which is well-known throughout the country. Dongyang wood carvings were born in Dongyang, Zhejiang Province, in the Song Dynasty. They are good at carving, with beautiful patterns and exquisite structure. During the reign of Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty, more than 400 craftsmen were called into Dongyang, the so-called "hometown of carving flowers", to repair palaces; Yueqing boxwood carving has become one of the Chinese folk woodcarving crafts since the mid-Qing Dynasty, famous for carving small boxwood decorations; Guangdong gold lacquerwood carving originated in the Tang Dynasty, which was carved with camphor wood and then painted with gold, brilliant and strong. Strong artistic effect.

Inheritance and Development

Wood carving is carved with wood and tree roots as materials. It is an important category in traditional carving technology. Wood carving has a very long history. There are wood carving fish unearthed at the Hemudu Cultural Site in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province. This is the earliest thing in the history of wood carving in China. The woodcarving town woodcarving animals unearthed from the Warring States Tomb in Xinyang, Henan Province, and the colored woodcarving servants unearthed from Yunmeng Han Tomb in Hubei Province are all early woodcarving works in China. Because of the difficulty of preservation, it is difficult to see woodcarving works for more than a thousand years nowadays.

Wood carvings were more common in the Song Dynasty. At that time, wood carvings had been made with well-organized wood as the carrier, which was conducive to the handing down of wood carvings. Some temples in China also preserve woodcarving works of the Song Dynasty.

During the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, due to the rapid development of overseas trade, the types of wood increased. Many hard wood imported from overseas was greatly developed in woodcarving technology.

The period of Ming and Qing Dynasty is a glorious period of wood carving art. A large number of famous artists, artists and their works have emerged, which is a peak of ancient wood carving art.

From the end of the Qing Dynasty to the Republic of China, owing to the corruption of the government, the decline of the national strength, the invasion of foreign powers, the people did not live in poverty, wood carving art declined, artists and celebrities could only live as craftsmen. After the founding of New China, with the care of the Party and the state, folk crafts have been protected and excavated. Wood carvings have been revived and a number of national masters have emerged. Their works, exquisite craftsmanship, adhering to tradition, far-reaching intentions and eulogizing the era, reflect the masters based on tradition, innovative, direct expression of the rebirth of mind and serving the country, the deep feeling of gratitude.

The reform and opening up of the country, the rapid economic growth, the prosperity of the country and the people, and the strong support of the Party and the state for folk arts and crafts have aroused the people's love and pursuit of traditional arts and crafts. In this prosperous age, folk arts and crafts have made a new leap, wood carving art is no exception. Facing the actual situation, in the national arts and crafts exhibition, the authors of excellent works are older, and few young writers. With the passage of time, a serious problem is put in front of us. How to stimulate young people's interest in making folk arts and crafts, how to train qualified successors, so that the cause of folk arts will not be left unattended, this is the work of trying to study outside of normal artistic creation. How to effectively protect folk art and inherit traditional folk culture has become a common issue faced by the government, scholars and artists. As a successful artist, his personal influence should be accompanied by his publicity. It can change the past form of inheritance. Most of the folk crafts are made and managed by individual families. There is no reliable guarantee in terms of economic sources and sales of works. In particular, there are more difficulties and problems in continuation, continuation, inheritance and development. If there is no suitable and ideal family heir, and the society does not pay attention to and give support, many folk art treasures may appear in our generation of dynastic phenomenon. This urgently requires us to carry out cultural rescue, so that these precious works of art and art forms can be protected. However, the difficulty is that due to the high development of machine manufacturing industry, more and more time-consuming manual operation is squeezed. Like a simple woodcarving, it is very common to spend a few days, but only tens of minutes with a machine. The same piece of work, due to the cost, price differences are too large, resulting in the hand-made market share is becoming less and less. Secondly, because profit margin occupies the living space of folk handicraft, under the pressure of low cost, rough handicraft wood carvings are everywhere.

Handmade wood carving has gradually lost its inherent cultural value and is increasingly on the edge of social culture. In order to make woodcarving work stand in the market, we must produce excellent works of art that can not be manufactured by a large number of machines, which requires the author himself to have superb skills. But mastering comprehensive and solid skills is by no means a day's work. Many art masters are eager to find good disciples, so that their craft can be passed on and carried forward, but not many young people are interested in folk crafts. No matter what kind of craft, the author is required to love the craft itself, to concentrate, to use his mind, to endure loneliness, to resist the temptation of the outside world. Regular exhibitions of works are held in the society, so that the masses, especially young people, have a profound perceptual understanding of traditional art, from love to yearning, and devote themselves to it, gradually deepening. The competent government departments should pay more attention to artists, especially young and middle-aged artists, so as to enable them to engage in artistic creation without running for life. Reporting and publicizing successful artists'deeds in the media can help young people understand that art will ultimately bring great honor and is a good cause for society and individuals. At the same time, it is urgent and long-term for the reform of art education in the new era to bring wood carving art into the teaching and research of colleges and universities of fine arts and to teach by example from the rostrum.


Tools are the most direct assistant and companion for the sculptor to create. In the process of wood carving process, the carving knife and its auxiliary tools play a very important role. As the saying goes, "A person's ingenuity is as wonderful as his family", "three points of skill and seven points of family". To see how a person's craftsmanship is, one only needs to observe his tools to know, and the maintenance and decoration of tools can also prove the quality of workers. In woodcarving creation, the tools are complete and can be used well. It can not only improve work efficiency, but also give full play to its own skills in shape, so that the knife can be used freely, clearly and smoothly, and increase the artistic expression of the works.

Carving knife

There are many, basically divided into two categories. One is the "Weng Tuan" blank knife, commonly known as "cutting waste", "blank knife", and the other is the "drill bar" polishing knife, which is mainly used for digging fine blanks and polishing. The widest chisel is 4-6 centimeters, and the narrowest chisel is only a little bit like the tip of a needle. When a beginner chooses a knife, he or she should first understand their respective uses, and then go to the place of origin, manufacturer or blacksmith shop to make a custom purchase. Blank knives are produced in Dongyang, Wenzhou Yueqing and Guangfu, Suzhou. In some places, suitable wood carving tools can also be bought in art material stores. If it is inconvenient or unavailable, you can learn to do it by yourself. The advantage of doing it by yourself is that no matter the type, size and shape of the knife, you can choose it by yourself, and you can buy handy tools at any time according to different uses and needs. However, self-made cutters are limited to the "drill bar" used for finishing. Others have tried to use steel plate files to make billet knives. Like the billet knives and polishing knives used in Fujian, they are made directly from iron bars or steel bars, because the top of the iron handle is square, so it is better to make billets without loading wooden handle. The following will introduce the types and uses of wood carving knives and their manufacturing methods one by one.

Round knife: The edge is circular arc. It is mostly used in circular and concave areas. It is also very useful in carving traditional flowers. For example, the round surfaces of leaves, petals and branches need to be shaped with a round knife. Round knife transverse movement is more labor-saving, and can adapt to large fluctuations and small changes. Moreover, the line of the circular knife is uncertain, and it is flexible and easy to explore. According to different uses, the type of round knife should be different, the size range is basically between 5 cm and 0.5 cm. The two corners of the knife edge of a round carving figure should be rubbed off to form a circular arc. Otherwise, when carving clothes or other indentations, not only can they not be pushed, but also the two sides of the indentated road will be damaged. If the relief is made, the two corners of the cutter edge should be retained and the corners of the ground should be carved with the function of the corner tip. Therefore, two kinds of relief should be provided. Round knife has the difference of positive and negative. The inclined surface is in the groove and the back of the knife is straight. It eats wood deeply and is most suitable for round carving, especially in the stage of blank drawing and blank digging. The inclined surface is on the back of the knife, and the groove is straight with a round knife with opposite mouth. It eats wood more deeply and can move knife or pick the ground gently. It is more useful in relief sculpture. The shape of the round knife can also be made into a curved iron rod according to the need, so as to penetrate deeper parts to dig and carve holes.

Flat knife: The edge is straight. It is mainly used to cut and flatten the concave and convex surface of wood to make it smooth and seamless. Large models can also be used to chisel large-scale, block feel, the use of appropriate, such as the brush effect of painting, appears strong, vivid and natural. The sharp angle of the flat knife can be marked, and the foot of the knife or the print pattern can be removed when the two knives intersect. Swedish and Soviet woodcarving figures mostly use flat knives, with a strong interest in wood knives.

Inclined knife: The edge of the knife is about 45 degrees oblique. It is mainly used for corner picking and trimming of the joints and hollow slits of the work. If you carve people's corners of the eye, the slant knife is better. The feeding knife is divided into forehand slant and backhand slant to suit all directions. In Shanghai boxwood carving, the skewed knife is usually used to carve the hair strands, and the knife is operated by the method of choking and twisting. The effect of carving the hair is more vivid and natural than that of carving with a triangular knife.

Yuwan knife: commonly known as "monk's head" and "butterfly chisel". Its edge is circular arc. It is a kind of polishing knife between circular knife and flat knife. It can be divided into circular arc and oblique arc. Flat and round knives can be replaced when they cannot be used. Characteristic is relatively gentle, neither as straight as flat knife, nor as deep and concave as round knife, suitable for use in concave undulations.

Medium steel knife: The edge is straight and both sides are inclined. Also known as "printing knife". Traditionally, it is believed that the edge of the knife of China Steel is in the middle, so that the edge can be kept straight and the retained parts around the knife can not be shaken. The steel knife is also used to print patterns on people's clothing and props.

Triangular knife: The edge is triangular, because its front is on the left and right sides, and the sharp gathering point is on the middle corner. To make the triangle cutter, the suitable tool steel (generally 4-6mm round steel) should be selected, and the triangle groove of 55-60 degrees should be milled out. The two waists should be flattened, and the end of the edge should be grinded into a cutting edge. If the angle is large, the lines carved will be thick and vice versa. Triangular knife is mainly used to carve decorative lines on hair. It is also a commonly used tool in printmaking and watermarking woodcut art. Triangular knife tip is pushed forward on the wood board during operation, sawdust is spit out from the triangular groove, and lines are carved on the parts pushed by the triangular knife tip.

When choosing and using the above cutters, we should pay attention to the difference of the thickness of the cutter head in use. The so-called knife head is the actual use of that section of the knife face. The thinner the blade, the sharper the blade, but the worse the fastness. According to this situation, the cutting head of the blank can be appropriately thick to withstand hammer beating and forceful digging; the knife used for polishing is thinner, so-called thin knife blade, so that the wood can be engraved smoothly. In short, the choice and configuration of tools must be strictly in accordance with the nature of the process, can not be arbitrarily replaced, and both in quantity and quality should be guaranteed. In traditional process carving, woodcarving tools are often as many as 100 pieces, and in general, at least 30 pieces. Of course, only a small part of them are often used, and some are only occasionally used.

Auxiliary tools of wood carving: mainly refer to hammers, wood files, axes, saws. The purpose of the axe is to cooperate with a large amount of cutting wood, pay attention to cutting should not be too hard, not straight up and down, axe blade should be kept at about 45 degrees with vertical wood grain, otherwise, wood will crack. The use of wood files is mainly in the round carving stage, which can replace the flat knife to grind and smooth the cutter marks and chisel files, and can replace the round knife or inclined knife to hollow out. The function of wood file is also to adjust the shape structure quickly in a large area, and can be combined with the carving knife to make the figure's clothes rolling and turning vividly and smoothly. The shape of wood carving hammer should be flat, flat, wide and square. The scale of hammer surface can be controlled at about 7 x 5.5 x 2.5 cm. Too narrow or too thick will affect the accuracy of the hammer landing point and force uniformity. There are two kinds of hammers: wooden and iron. Wooden hammers generally use hardwood with a large proportion of wood, such as rosewood, poplar, sandalwood, beech and fruit wood. Their specifications can be controlled in 27 cm long, 55 cm wide and 45 cm thick. The handle position is round and slightly flat, and the size is suitable for holding in the hand.

Auxiliary tools for wood carving also include small electric woodworking polishers and electric pistol drills. The purpose of polishing machine is only to finish the surface of the work. It can replace manual polishing in a large area. It is time-saving and labor-saving, but only for large and medium-sized works with relatively flat volume. Pistol drills are mainly used for hollowing by hand, and can be used to cut outlines when making large sculptures.

Operating equipment

Mainly refers to a particularly stable and strong worktable and wooden pliers with cross-stretching bars, on which table pliers and G-clips can be placed. Bench pliers are used for round carving. The pliers must be equipped with cork to prevent the damage of carved wood and tools. G-clip is used for chiseling rough relief. Beginners can set up some economical and simple workbenches according to their own conditions, such as billet stools. Large pieces can be placed on the ground or stand or squat flexibly.