Chengkou, where Cai Zerong lives, is the northernmost county of Chongqing and located at a back land of Daba Mountain. Though inaccessible and nearly isolated from the outside world, Chengkou is blessed with abundant resources to produce lacquer wares and known as the hometown of raw lacquer.
When he was young, around ten years old, Cai Zerong started dealing with lacquer trees. After graduating from junior high school in 1969, he became an apprentice of a lacquerer to make a living.
In 1993, he rented a small studio and named it Feiya Lacquer Plant for producing and exporting lacquer bowls to Japan. However, realizing the more significant demand from the domestic market, he shifted his target to China and renamed the studio “Shanshen” (literally the charm of the mountain).
“The studio is based in the mountains, and it is the Daba Mountain that provides us with materials for production and inspires our craftspeople. Thus the name should be about the mountain. Besides, lacquerware is a treasure of the Chinese nation and a carrier of our traditional culture, which stimulates us to make our art pieces charming, so that we take ‘Shanshen’ as the brand name.”
“Lacquerwares have a very long production cycle. To be more specific, seven days are needed for each layer of lacquer to get dry, and some poor climate and humidity elements may prolong the time to over ten days. Moreover, it’s possible for lacquer wares to have various quality problems, and to solve them, we have to refine the artistry. ”
It is the commitment to make perfection more perfect that enables Shanshen to emerge and win reputation. Some of Cai Zerong’s masterpieces, such as the Wushan Goddess Peak, were presented to foreign guests as national gifts.
The past three decades witnessed Shanshen’s dramatic development, from a small studio to Chongqing’s cultural industry demonstration base and China’s national famous brand. Currently, it is in preparation for the application of China’s National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Besides, in its blueprint, Shanshen will develop into an integrated Chinese lacquer culture industrial park combining cultural exhibition, research, and development, hand-made experience, product sales, etc.
Source: Shangyou News