Steelyard craftsman in central China

Updated: 2011-04-11 15:46


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Steelyard craftsman in central China

Wen Zhifei, a steelyard craftsman, stands behind a counter in his steelyard shop
in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, March 29, 2011.
(Xinhua/Long Hongtao)

Steelyard, which has a history of thousands of years in China, has gradually disappeared from people's daily life as platform balance and electronic balance become popular nowadays.

Wen Zhifei, 60 years old, is a skillful and "the last steelyard craftsman in Changsha" as local people call him. His shop is now the only hand-made steelyard shop in the century-old Taiping Street in Changsha, while in the past there were four such shops.

Wen Zhifei started to learn making steelyards when he was 13 years old. He came to Changsha at 23 and won reputation for his exquisite skills. In the past 40 years, he has made more than 13,000 steelyards. Wen Zhifei said the traditional procedures of making a hand-made steelyard has more than 100 steps. Though many steps can be done by machine now, the other steps still need delicate handwork.

Due to low profits from selling steelyards, Wen Zhifei has to sell electronic balances in his shop. He is rather worried that the handicraft of making steelyard would be lost as few people would like to learn it nowadays.

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