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China: Around The Nation

Chinese disabled beggar gets new lease of life as an artist

Helped by a local temple, Tang Changyin spent years perfecting his skills and now has his own studio

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 November, 2017, 12:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 November, 2017, 4:01pm

Chinese internet users have been moved by the story of a disabled former beggar who is now making a living as a painter.

Tang Changyin, who is in his 30s, used to beg in Chongqing for years until a temple took him in 2010, the Chongqing Morning News reported. Tang suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and is unable to walk.

A painter who was a friend of the abbot decided to teach Tang how to draw so he could earn enough income to support himself.

Tang does get a small government allowance, but he has spent years honing his artistic skills so he can become independent.

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His parents discouraged him during his efforts to master drawing, according to the article.

“You’re approaching 30 and it’s useless for you to learn how to draw. Nobody is blaming your disabilities, so, go on begging!” they were quoted as telling him.

Without time to beg, Tang’s income quickly shrank. One difficult period came before the Lunar New Year holiday in 2015 when he only had three yuan (45 US cents) left.

Tang persisted and is now able to sell his works.

Since last year he has mainly depicted views of the old wooden stilt houses on Chongqing’s slopes or scenes from the city’s daily life, using a traditional Chinese drawing style.

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Tang now has his own studio, for which he pays 300 yuan in monthly rent.

His art has also won him friends and admirers, according to the article.

“Look at the people under this old house in this painting – there are over a hundred and their expressions and movements are all different,” one elderly man was quoted as saying of one piece of artwork. “The drawing is so good. It’s so vivid!”