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Keeping an ancient craft afloat

Updated : 2022-08-31 (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Cen Guohe, an inheritor of the traditional wooden boat building techniques in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province. [Photo/zhoushan.cn] 

There aren't many traditional wooden boats left on the seas today, but Cen Guohe, the inheritor of the techniques used to build such vessels in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province, is determined to keep this heritage alive.

The techniques were listed as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2008.

The workshop that the 66-year-old runs was founded in 1890 by his grandfather Cen Mingxi. To date, the workshop has produced more than 1,000 types of wooden boats. 

Among its customers is German sailor Thomas Hope, who had in 1998 ordered a European-style wooden boat he named Carol. The 14-meter-long boat was later used to sail from Zhoushan to Germany in 2001.

To ensure that the workshop stays relevant in the modern world, Cen has since the late 1980s been making improvements to the boats and the crafting techniques. Today, the workshop builds both real boats and models of classic Chinese boats and European vessels. Most of his customers today are collectors of ancient boats.

Cen has also built a facility which specializes in the design, manufacturing, and academic research of the craft.

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A wooden boat made by Cen Guohe, an inheritor of the traditional wooden boat building techniques in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province. [Photo/zhoushan.cn] 

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Boat models made in the Cen Guohe's workshop in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province. [Photo/zhoushan.cn]