Masters in their groove

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 November, 2008, 12:00am

Bamboo carving is a craft that dates back to the Tang dynasty, but it is still alive today thanks to contemporary masters such as the late Bai Shifeng and his student Wang Zhiwei

ABOVE The carving style practised by Wang Zhiwei is known as liuqing, which literally means 'leaving the green'. Wang's teacher, the late famed carver Bai Shifeng, is known as a master of the style

BELOW One of Bai's works, a display piece, that is estimated to be worth 100,000 yuan (HK$114,000)

ABOVE A bamboo grove, which symbolises longevity and learning. The plant has inspired generations of artists and craftsmen. It lives in paintings and as exquisite pieces of furniture, and is eaten as both food and medicine. It is also grown simply for the beauty of its shape and foliage;

RIGHT In the assured hands of Wang Zhiwei, two bamboo armrests traditionally used by calligraphers provide a visual feast. They were carved not only on the surface of the bamboo but in layers, leaving behind parts of the bamboo skin - one of the most difficult carving styles. This required a delicacy of hand for which Wang is renowned. The pieces, only sold at auction, are highly prized and can fetch as much as 150,000 yuan

ABOVE Bamboo carving artist Wang Zhiwei in his studio in Changzhou , Jiangsu province . Wang, in his 30s, is one of China's most prominent artists in the field. He began his training at 11 and was the last student taken in by the late Bai Shifeng .