Linxia Brick Carving

About 130 kilometers southwest of Lanzhou lies the famous, ancient county of Linxia -- the "Land Port of Gansu". Linxia stands on the bank of the lower reaches of the Daxia River, since the river is its neighbor, the town is called lin (neighbor) to the xia which refers to the Daxia River.

Linxia serves as the political, economic, cultural and communications center of Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture. The ethnic groups living here are Han, Hui, Dongxiang, Bao'an, Salar, Tu, Tibetan, and Mongolian, forming the unique and colorful local folk culture.

Linxia Brick Carving is a unique form of folk art on building facades. Its origin can be traced back to the Qin (221-207 BC) and Han (206 BC-220 AD) periods. It became a mature artistic form and prospered during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1636-1911) dynasties.

During its long development, Linxia brick carving has assimilated the artistic characteristics of wood carving, stone carving andjadecarving, as well as painting,calligraphy, seals and poetry, which has, imbued this form of art with a style of its own.

There two main carving skills; carving after kneading and baking, and chiseling and carving. The latter goes through eight procedures of burnishing, designing, carving, further polishing, soaking, numbering, piecing together, and decorating. The tools used are folding rulers, saws, planes, shovels and chisels, each with several sizes according to the technical requirements.

Rich and varied brick carvings can be found on many buildings in Linxia. In them, there are some masterpieces, by famous artists, which display the unique artistic forms and superb techniques.