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A delicate thread from history

Updated: 2021-12-01 08:12 ( China Daily )
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A fan in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) style with a design of a phoenix resting in a Chinese parasol tree. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 2015, Hao took the plunge and opened his own art studio.

At first, it gave him great satisfaction to make things his way and receive orders, but setbacks soon followed.

Some customers reneged on a deal, leaving Hao bearing a substantial cost.

However, a lucky break came later, in 2015, when a female student who was studying abroad approached him via his Sina Weibo account and asked him to make a circular fan in a Qing Dynasty style.

He said yes, even though he had never made a fan before.

However, she refused to take the item after Hao finished making it several months later. "She said it was flawed and wasn't good enough, which packed quite a punch," he recalls.

It spurred Hao to seek ways to improve and he decided to base his creations on the book, Here Comes the Gentle Breeze: Qing Court Fans in the Palace Museum Collection.

To ensure exquisite kesi work, Hao was meticulous in tracing the patterns from the book, and went to a colored yarn workshop and his friend's dyehouse to find just the right colors.

The covering of Qing-style fans from the book features kesi, embroidery and elements of color painting, while Hao made the covering of his fans with full kesi craft, and only used embroidery to embellish the frame and handle.

A couple of months later, Hao delivered three Qing-style fans-one featured a phoenix resting in a Chinese parasol tree, another had flowers and birds, while the last depicted a palace and a crane.

The fans were an eye-opener, especially compared with ordinary paper fans. They attracted 500,000 views online after the images were posted in mid-2015, putting Hao on the map.

However, when people beat a path to Hao's door asking for such circular fans, he turned them down.

"I'm not an artisan for circular fans, but of the kesi craft," he explained to them.

Hao went on to explore possibilities of applying the kesi technique to various other contemporary items, creating bags, belts and home furnishings.

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