Yang Shuming: Outstanding jade carving master in Yunnan turns raw stones into unique masterpieces
Forty-eight-year-old Yang Shuming is a national-level jade carving master based in Tengchong city, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, and a provincial-level inheritor of the jade carving craft, an item of intangible cultural heritage in the province.
Yang has been engaged in the trade for 30 years already. According to him, the value of a jade carving artwork is determined by several different characteristics, including the smoothness and density of its texture, level of transparency, color, purity, and carving techniques.
Yang is good at carving jade according to the features of the materials. “Every piece of jade is unique. To make a masterpiece, a sculptor should treat every piece of jade as a friend, learn about it and then work on it,” Yang said.
Yang once bought a raw jade stone with impurities and a low level of transparency, which was sold by a raw jade stone company at a discounted price. Drawing inspiration from a poem of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Yang turned the impurities of the jade stone into snow and carved out images of trees, mountains, and an old man wearing a bamboo hat onto the stone based on its unique texture and variance in coloring. With his deft hands, Yang created a jade carving masterpiece that vividly depicted the poem. The masterpiece was later auctioned off at a price of 3.6 million yuan (about $564,883) in Hong Kong.