As much a living museum as a massive folk art studio, Bai Gong Fang gathers together many of Beijing’s masters of Chinese craftsmanship in a space where they can ply their trade and make sure that it is not lost to time and modernity.
Roughly translated as the “100 Handicraftsmen Workshop,” the Bai Gong Fang center is composed of 30 studios, featuring more than 100 kinds of traditional arts practiced by masters who’ve trained all their lives to reach perfection in their chosen trade. Each space is its own unique attraction and presents a distinct charm, where the myriad handicrafts can grow and be passed on to apprentices and buyers.
Among the many arts and crafts being researched and produced at Bai Gong Fang are the “Eight Unique Skills of Yanjing” (Yanjing being Beijing’s former name) which are: engraved lacquer, ivory carving, cloisonne, jade sculpture, inlaid filigree, inlaid gold lacquer, palace carpets and palace embroidery. In addition to these specific, historic crafting skills the site holds major studios working in glass, clay and paper arts as well.
On the third floor of the center, there is a large classroom where visitors have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the skills being practiced below. The workshop provides classes on paper-cutting, Chinese brush writing, making paper flowers, making clay figurines, and mask painting just to name a few.
Bai Gong Fang is devoted to keeping the traditional arts and crafts of China alive in this increasingly transient and disconnected world. With the 100 craftsmen the name of the facility boasts, they just might do it.