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From migrant worker to artist: the moving story of a lantern designer

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    17:04, February 19, 2019

Shentu Feidong made a Lion-shaped lantern. (Photo: hznews)

As Chinese get ready to celebrate the Lantern Festival by lighting various lanterns, lantern makers like Shentu Feidong, a craftsman from Shenao Village, Tonglu County, Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, enter their busiest season of the year.

In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple in design and only emperors and noblemen had large ornate ones. Nowadays, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs. The craft of lantern designing and making has been listed as intangible cultural heritage in many cities of China, such as Hangzhou.

Now a successor of the Shenao colored-lantern design in Hangzhou, Shentu has been interested in art since childhood. He was accepted by an art secondary school, but failed to start his studies after his father was seriously injured in an accident. So, Shentu had to drop out and find a way to raise the family.

His tough, harsh life did not crush his faith in the future. He worked a wide range of jobs, from carpenter and welder to embroider.

“There are no guarantees in life, we have to work hard for our future,” Shentu said. Thanks to his practice earlier in life, he is able to turn the designs in his mind into real-life art.

In 2013, a “Lions Playing Ball” lantern design made by Shentu, inspired by a thought of province-level intangible heritage known as Shenao Lions, won the top award in a national lantern competition. Although he works as a manager now, Shentu still practices his work. Meanwhile, he is also teaches at an art secondary school, where he shares his unique experience in lantern making.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Yang Yang, Jiang Jie)

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