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Traditional handicrafts that are dying out

Updated: Sep 24,2014 3:12 PM

Knife grinding. In lanes or hutongs, the calling of “knife scissors grinding” can occasionally be heard. Though knife grinding is an insignificant skill, it is indispensible in that knives and scissors used for chopping, cutting and tailoring can be blunt after some time and need sharpening. To serve customers, a knife grinder only needs a specially made bench with a grindstone placed on one end and a small bucket of water. [Photo by Zhao Yuguo/Asianewsphoto]

As society progresses rapidly, some traditional businesses are becoming obsolete and dying out. The old handicrafts not only represent the wisdom of the older generations but also fond memories for many in the modern age. The following are some examples of old handicrafts or businesses.

Street barber

A chair and a box of tools is enough for a street barber who has a stand on a street corner. Tough they charge much less than a barbershop, few young people frequent these stands.[Photo by Yang Fan/Asianewsphoto]

Pen mending

In a time of “material shortage”, a pen represented fashion and status and thus pen menders were indispensible. With simple tools, only they can make the broken pen return to normal with the ink flowing.[Photo by Li Ming/Asianewsphoto]

Traditional midwife

Scissors and a pot of boiled water is all the tools needed for a traditional midwife. They used to be very important people, especially in rural areas. As medical conditions rise and clinics spring up, this vocation is dying out.[Photo by Zhang Dan/Asianewsphoto]

Cutting pattern

The handicraft is often considered a “patent” for women. Under their nimble hands, scissors turn paper into beautiful flower patterns. It’s different from paper cutting, as this handicraft only produces flower patterns as examples for embroidery. [Photo by Wang Huabin/Asianewsphoto]

Facial threading

With a piece of thread, hair can be removed swiftly yet meticulously from the face, leaving the face smooth and clean. As beauty salons spring up, this folk art is disappearing.[Photo by Lu Bo’an/Asianewsphoto]

Watch mender

With a magnifier, an alcohol lamp and a tweezer, a watch mender fixes stopped time with their nimble hands. [Photo by Ni Lifang/Asianewsphoto]

Hand-carved stamp

Through polishing, designing and carving, a skilled craftsman can make a stamp in half an hour. As computer seals are produced, hand-carved stamp craftsman face a struggle to survive.[Photo by Liang Zhijie/Asianewsphoto]


It’s the art of turning silver and gold sheetmetal into household wares such as dishes, bowls and vases. A silver craftsman can also make silver or gold jewelry.[Photo by Li Yuanbo/Asianewsphoto]

Traditional rice puffing

Many young people still remember a childhood scene: a calabash-shaped “bomb” connects with a bellow and a stove. With a huge bang going, puffed rice was produced. [Photo by Zhou Gukai/Asianewsphoto]

Bamboo crafts

With a knife, a bamboo craftsman can make bamboo strips into a basket, a mat or a steamer. With proficient skills, they help people decorate their lives.[Photo by Qiu Haiying/Asianewsphoto]

Sugar-figure blowing

The traditional folk art is said to have a history of more than 600 years. Firstly the sugar-figure craftsman heats the sugar to the proper temperature and then make the sugar into different shapes by kneading, pulling, blowing and more. The craftsmen walk around lanes and streets, where their skillful techniques seem magical to children and adults.[Photo by Kong Xiaozheng/Asianewsphoto]

Handmade shoes

According to a shoe pattern, a craftswoman makes shoes with cloth. By threading layers of old cloth together, soles are made and then it’s time to make the upper. Soft and comfortable, handmade shoes are still loved by old folks.[Photo by Zhao Zhijian/Asianewsphoto]

Pot mender

People used to mend broken pots when they were not as rich as they are today. A pot mender can recover a broken pot, kettle or basin using molten ion, saving much money for customers.[Photo by Liu Xiaokun/Asianewsphoto]

Dough figurine

Using flour, scissors, a small comb and other tools, a dough figure craftsman can make many different things, from people to animals, plants and so on. The tradition dates back about 2,000 years. [Photo by Geng Guoqing/Asianewsphoto]

Bellow making

A bellow is a device constructed to furnish a strong blast of air. It used to be a fire-lighting device widely used in some rural areas of China. Now, as gas is widely used, the bellows are disappearing and so is the handicraft of bellow making.[Photo/Xinhua]