Gourd Engraving: Li Yu Cheng 葫芦: 李玉成

Pen drawing of an artist's outdoor studio

Li Yu Cheng lives in Li She Village in Yan Si Town and has been engraving gourds for twenty years. Li Yu sees himself as a folk artist and aspires to be a National Heritage Fellow, and so he practices his craft that is in keeping with the traditions of gourd engraving in China and Shandong Province. Because of his renown as a gourd engraver, others come to him to learn the craft.

It takes Li Yu five to six hours to engrave a medium-sized gourd. Li Yu is affiliated with gourd engravers who make cricket cages from gourds. While gourds are still used for that purpose, Li Yu sells many of his gourds to tourists. Li Yu’s gourd engravings feature scenes from Peking Opera, morality tales, and famous Chinese poems. His gourds are also notable for his use of symbolism. The gourd itself symbolizes longevity and fertility because of the large number of seeds it produces. Li Yu also engraves his gourds with fish to symbolize abundance and bamboo for good fortune.