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Chinese Wood Carving

Wood carving is a branch of carving. As one of China’s traditional folk handicraft, it can be generally divided into three-dimensional carving, root carving, and relief. China has a time-honored history of wood carving. It originated in Neolithic Period, and the beginning of the wood carving accompanied by people’s daily life. It didn’t become a kind of art until people begin to have artistic ability.

The earliest existing wood carving was unearthed in 1980 in Hubei Province is believed to be made during the Warring State about 3,000 years ago. According to the historical records, the daily utility, ornament and furniture made of wood came into being in Southern Qi period (420 A.D. -479 A.D.). In one of Han Yu’s poems, He described a wood-carving figure vividly. During the Song and Yuan Dynasties, some painters began to focus on wood-carving painting. In Qing Dynasty, wood carving reached a new peaking, and there were many artists specialized wood carving. Today many valuable wood carvings are kept in the Imperial Palace in Beijing and Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai.

Wood Carving

Process of Wood Carving
The process of wood carving has four steps. First step is to select the material. The quality of the wood should be tough and firm, red sandalwood, scented wood, annatto, etc. are ideal wood material for wood carving. As to the shape, it should possess its own feature, which has the great effect on later creation. As wood carving featured originality, the creator should make the best use of material's original shape and natural beauty. He or she must find out the best conception according to the selected wood, and try their best to keep the traits of wood, such as fibers, holes and veins. The principle is three-tenths of the work is done by man, and the rest seven is determined by nature. That's the second step. Then the wood will be sawed, clipped or polished. Different method will be employed according to the shape of wood. The final step is to color or lacquer the products.


According to different usage, wood carving can be mainly divided into two categories. The applied wood carving is endowed with the practical function as well as the ornamental value. They can serve as chairs, tables, sofas, screens, flower shelves and so on. In addition, there are ornamental wood carvings. This kind of carving is only used as decoration, which takes a large portion of all wood carvings. They are shaped into numerous animals, flowers and human figures.

Wood Carving

Categories of Wood Carving

•Three-dimensional carving
Three-dimensional carving is a kind of carving imitating real animals. This kind of vivid carving can be appreciated from different dimensions. It’s an overall performance of carving. 
Relief is a kind of undulating carving carved on the surface. It’s an art form in between three-dimensional carvings and paintings.
•Root carving
The creation object of root carving is natural shape or distortion shape of wood root (including burl, bamboo root etc.). The art of root carving is a combination of finding natural beauty and artificial creation. Three-tenths of the work is done by man, and the rest sevenths is determined by nature, the principle is for root carving.