Comb, is a household item, however, Kui Comb is special as a kind of Chongqing intangible cultural heritage.
Chongqing craftsman and the Kui Comb
In order to concentrate on manufacturing Kui Comb, Xiao Daiming, the 55-year-old inheritor of Chongqing intangible cultural heritage “Kui Comb”, recently moved his studio from his balcony to an old house in the mountain located in the back of Fengjie County where no decoration except for the manufacture tools of comb hanging on the wall.
“Keep improving” represents Xiao Deming’s persistence and respect for traditional craftsmanship. This kind of persistence also enables Xiao Daiming to engrave his ingenuity into the Kui Comb.
Among the plenty of tools required by the production of Kui Comb, there are both old tools used by Xiao Daiming’s father and the ones processed and restructured by himself.
Kui Comb seems simple yet requires sophistication.
In fact, although the unsophisticated Kui Comb is seemingly simple, the process is quite detailed and complicated. It is recorded that the original production process of Kui Comb has more than 70 steps. Even though many of them have been lost, there are at least 16 processes that Xiao Daiming needs to go through in the manufacturing process of Kui Comb. To manufacture a qualified comb also demands the proper control of strength. Only after a lot of practice can the practice be perfect and easy accompanied with the appropriate force, sawing depth and polish degree.
The six generations of Xiao Daiming’s ancestors were craftsmen for Kui Comb. He learned his craft with his father when he was a child. Only the professionals know that the preciousness of the Kui Comb is embodied in its details. For example, each comb has the characteristics of a melon-seed tip, a sword-shaped and a plum-blossom engraving handle; the broaches are not completely parallel, but both ends are slightly closer to the middle, showing a semi-circular shape so that the hair can be gathered to the middle.
In 2009, after getting laid off from his job, Xiao Daiming regained his craftsmanship of Kui Comb by accident. In 2011, the Kui Comb was listed in the intangible cultural heritage list of Chongqing. With the title of the inheritor of Kui Comb, Xiao Daiming founded the “Skill Master Studio”. His daughter who was studied in the Department of Printmaking of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute also usually put forward new suggestions for him, prompting the production of Kui Comb more refined.
A high-quality comb lasts for several decades and Xiao Daiming’s hands and eyes play the role of quality guarantee of each comb.