26 September 2007

Root Sculpting

Continuing from my earlier entry where I was in GuiLin, we stopped by a village en route back to the hotel. This was no ordinary village. This was a village that specialises in root sculpting i.e. carvings and sculptures of tree roots. The thing about some of these villages here is that you sometimes get the whole village involved in a single trade as a mean to make a living for all the families living inside. Remember my earlier entry about SiJiu (四九) Town? Same concept, different product.

As I opened my car door after being stuck in the car all air conditioned and stuffy, I was hit by the refreshing scent of Camphor wood (樟木). It very much reminded me of Grandpa's house in Ta!pei where camphor wood furniture was and still is very popular among the elder Ta!wanese generations.

For a moment, I thought I was back in Grandpa's home as I haven't had this pleasant bouquet flirting with my olfactory senses in a long time.

Just to show how big one of these roots can be, I took this picture with my buddy AP (white shirt and bermudas) standing next to it to give you an idea. If this was merely the root of the tree, can you imagine how big the tree was?

Perhaps this was the piéce de résistance where, again my lovely assistant, AP, has again kindly volunteered* to model for me. For this particular root, it was sawed in half due to its sheer size, which would explain the flat bottom. So in actual fact, this root was in reality, double in size of what you see here.

* Well, I kinda volunteered him without him knowing. =P

I was thinking to myself how many years it took for this tree to grow to such majestic magnitude and yet in the name of human consumption, it was felled in a matter of minutes.

I was also thinking how the heck did these tree loggers managed to get the tree out to this village? Think for a moment, for a tree to be this big, it has got to be very far from civilisation, probably smack in the middle of some deep forest somewhere. Away from civilisation means no roads for the heavy transport to get in to retrieve the tree and no roads for the tree to be transported out. So how did this tree managed to end up here.

My guess is possibly the sheer will power of the human labour. You have got to respect the Spitlanders for pulling this off, even though what they did is not exactly very eco-friendly but I digress.

(Click Each Picture To Enlarge)

Camphor is the wood of choice due to the beauty of its natural burl and scent but other woods like Spruce are also used by less popular.

Most of the sculptings are either dioramas or figure carvings of folklore figures (like the 18 LuoHans, laughing monk), animals (dragon, phoenix, tigers, eagles), religious deities (Buddha and Goddess of Mercy GuanYin) as well as a traditional Ch1nese tea (泡茶) table set.

The last shot at the bottom shows a diorama in the making and it stretched all the way from the foreground to the back where the windows was. Can you say L-A-R-G-E?

- Voxeros

1. aloe left...
Thursday, 27 September 2007 11:37 am
That's HUGE!! Are they commissioned to do it or they just do and see who comes along to buy it?

2. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 27 September 2007 12:55 pm :: 
Aloe: I think it's a combination of each but I would guess that it would mostly be "do first sell later" as they have to work according to each individual root.

Commissioned deals means that the client specifies what he wants in advance but given that you don't know what you are going to get (the shape and type of root), it is very difficult to promise anything to the customer.

3. hiaoauntie left...
Thursday, 27 September 2007 1:02 pm
i think the roots look pretty scary... what with the tentacles and all.... i wonder where the buyer will put it??? cannot be in the living room rite???? garden perhaps?

4. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 27 September 2007 1:46 pm :: 
hiaoauntie: Tentacles??!!? WTF?? Eh... I think it's time you cut down on your hentai liao....

These sculptures are definitely indoor types for the roots will not be able to withstand the elements of weathering after the sculpture is complete. Definitely, for display in the hall or lobby of some major building or some super duper rich man's mansion.

5. hiaoauntie left...
Friday, 28 September 2007 1:38 am
i think your imagination is more vivid than mine... seriously i am not thinking about hentai... in fact, i am thinking more about nightmares... ghost and spirit and stuff

6. JayWalk left...
Friday, 28 September 2007 9:45 am :: 
hiaoauntie: Horror hentai???!!! OMG, you are more hardcore than I imagined!

7. slurp! left...
Sunday, 7 October 2007 11:58 am
*speeches* i guess the profits must have been good. They will do ANYTHING for money! Even to the extend of destroying their own environment & feng shui. *sighz*

8. JayWalk left...
Monday, 8 October 2007 1:45 am :: 
slurp!: Let's face it, the entire, if not most, village population is probably illiterate and as such would be clueless to impact on environment and all that.

That reminds me of a book that I have and would recommend to you. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

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