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I was surprised to find so many prize-winning artworks at Zi Ying Xuan, especially when I found out what they sell. The studio, owned by Mr. Ma Ziying, makes sculptures using tree barks.
When I visited the Antique City in Shijingshan district, I was first attracted by beautiful and professional photos of his art by the shop window. It seemed to be a tea shop at first glance, but Mr. Ma came by to tell me that he deals with root sculptures.
The shop displays many of his root-carving works, three of which have won prizes in the Liu Kaiqu Chinese art contest. The first is ¡°Struggle¡±, featuring a man struggling to free himself from all restrictions. The second is ¡°Tai Ji¡±, which depicts the Tao concept of infinity. The third tells the story of Nu Wa, an ancient goddess in Chinese folklore, repairing the sky to keep it from falling humans.
But Mr Ma told me his favorite is the "Dragon Spirit", a sculpture in shape of a flying dragon. The root, which came from virgin forest in southeast China, is 1500 years old.
Root sculpture price ranges from several thousands to tens of thousands. Zi Ying Xuan also sells hand-made purses designed by Mr Ma's friends. I personally like the leather one with a totem of a Chinese dragon.
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