The master artisan, pictured above, leads a team of craftsmen who work at their stations in the studio. He approves the sketches for the carving work, which can take over a year to complete, depending on size and complexity. The designs are based on the colors available in the stone.
They have a showroom where the art can be sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The art of Chinese Shoushan Stone Carvings
Detail from top image
When polished, the alabaster is slightlt translucent. By shining a light from the rear of the stone, it glows with firey effect, revealing the colors embedded deep within the material.
I was introduced to the unusual and intricate art of Shoushan stone work in Fuzhou, China – the only place that it really exists. Shoushan is based on a type of alabaster with unusual colored properties, and excavated from a particular mountain in the region. According to China Daily, the stone is created from ancient lava, and has strange properties of embedded colors and transparency.
I knew the businessman who had set up the only real production of Shoushan carvings – with a studio of artisans and showrooms for collectors.
The stones, sometimes worth 3X the value of gold by weight, appears unremarkable at first. But when sprayed with water, the inner colors begin to appear on the surface.
The artists must modify their designs to use the colors that appear in the stone. They are not allowed to combine stone, or paste anything on.
Everything must come from a single block.