Pearl River Times 2017-05-23
Liu Zhuokun and his Rattan Weaving Artistry
Liu Zhuokun was born in a family of rattan weaving. He spent his childhood in watching his family weaving rattan and gradually became interested in rattan weaving. “When I was a child, all of my toys were made of rattan. And I started to do some simple rattan weaving at the age of four.” Liu said.
When it comes to taking rattan weaving as a lifetime career and inheriting this traditional artistry through a book, Liu’s aunt had great influence on him. “My aunt used to win an award in an international expo with the rattan weaving handicrafts designed by her. I was inspired a lot.”
With the rattan weaving basis set at a young age, Liu followed his father and entered the Nanhai Cooperated Rattan Factory (known as Nanhai Dongfeng Rattan Factory now) when he was 18 years old. He started as a production worker and has done almost every position. “I have been in charge of creation and development of rattan weaving in the sample group for more than 20 years.”
In 1982, Papua New Guinea at the west of south Pacific Ocean got in touch with Chinese Foreign Ministry and hoped that China could send some rattan weaving craftsmen to teach locals to make rattan weaving articles. Liu had been there for exchange and sharing with two other colleagues for two years.
"There were many different kinds of rattan materials but they did not know how to use it. So they made crude rattan furniture and no handiwork at all.” Liu said. Thus, He taught locals to improve rattan furniture and taught those interested in rattan weaving how to make handiwork.
In 1990, Liu went to Papua New Guinea on behalf of China for a second time. “In order to teach people to distinguish rattans and better show rattan weaving artistry, we formed a group of four people and went into the jungle hidden with great danger to look for wild rattan.” He recalled, “this country is known as world crocodile city, so the road of investigation was very dangerous. Finally, we found many kinds of wild rattan that locals had never used.”
After two times of international exchange, rattan weaving artistry is growing in this country, greatly pushing the development of local rattan industry. The South Pacific Ocean Applied Technology Foundation especially issued an article to express their gratitude to Liu and his colleagues.
In 1994, Liu Zhuokun published the first version of Rattan Weaving Artistry with the government fund. The book contains detailed knowledge and illustrations, including basic knowledge of rattan, rattan weaving artistry, rattan furniture, etc. “Words cannot fully explain rattan weaving, so rich pictures are necessary to help readers understand specific procedures.” He drew all of the illustrations in the book. Now he reprints 3,000 copies of the book at his own expense and sends them to those in need. “In my opinion, it is worthwhile to make contributions to inherit rattan weaving artistry.” Liu said.