Xinchang town, located in Chengdu’s Dayi county, has been dubbed “Sichuan’s number 1 village for manufacturing incense sticks“, as every household in the town can make incense sticks by hand—it’s a skill that’s been passed down from family to family.
Villagers dry the incense sticks in the fields.
Since machinery was introduced to the town, the production of incense sticks has gone up tenfold. A workshop of 30 people can produce about four million incense sticks.
Numerous workers still prefer the traditional craft involved with making the incense sticks by hand. One such worker, surnamed Fu, told reporters that he learned the skill at the age of 12. He’s been making incense sticks for 38 years.
The process isn’t difficult, Fu says, just monotonous. He’s photographed here holding a bundle of around 100 wet bamboo sticks and shaking them to make the powder stick.
The raw materials used for making incense sticks include bamboo, wood powder, camphor tree powder and dyes.
After the incense sticks dry, Fu prepares them for wrapping.
“One person can shake more than 20,000 sticks per day,” Fu told reporters. “We work from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m in summer time, and from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in winter. We stand for 10 hours dipping sticks into water and shaking them in powder” over and over again, he said.
Worker send the incense sticks to a wrapping workshop.
“We can earn more than 2,000 yuan per month. Working locally to make this much money is satisfactory indeed,” Fu said with a smile, “The biggest challenge for incense stick craftsmen is working in the dust every day. You also need to be very patient.”
Fu is fully aware that his offspring will not carry on the craft. It’s a tiring and dirty job and no young man will do it, he says. His own son works in another city.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via NetEase]