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  • THE PRODUCTIVE: Nie Fangjun works in his studio on October 30 (LONG HONGTAO)
  • SHAPING UP: Nie constructs the frame for a paper deer (LONG HONGTAO)
  • FROM SCRATCH: Nie makes a frame of a paper deer in his living room (LONG HONGTAO)
  • AT HOME: Nie sits in his living room working on a skeleton (LONG HONGTAO)
  • SORE THUMBS: Nie shows his two thumbs calloused from rubbing bamboo strips (LONG HONGTAO)
  • COLORING: Nie paints the head of a small lion (LONG HONGTAO)
  • SUCCESSOR: Nie teaches Long Fengmei, the youngest student, at his home (LONG HONGTAO)
  • IN THE DETAILS: Nie teaches a student how to add a touch of gold to a piece (LONG HONGTAO)
  • TOUCH-UP: Nie works on a dragon's head (LONG HONGTAO)
  • LOOKING RIGHT: Nie puts the finishing touches on the colors of a dragon's head (LONG HONGTAO)
  • PROUD ARTIST: Nie shows off some of his favorites (LONG HONGTAO)
  • ALL LINED UP: Nie examines finished works (LONG HONGTAO)

In ancient Fenghuang County, central China's Hunan Province, traditional Chinese paper craft is being passed on by Nie Fangjun, 79, who was born to a paper-crafting family. Nie has dedicated his life to the art of paper craft for almost seven decades.

Hand-painted in a small studio, Nie's creations of lifelike paper animals, plants and people represent the local art of paper craft. His works maintain classical elegance with modern elements.

"Machines are common now, but hand-made papers are more vivid. Natural is best," Nie said, painstakingly coloring a small paper lion.

Unlike other experienced craftsmen, who only teach handcrafts to their sons, Nie excludes no one.

"The possible disappearance of paper craft will never happen to my works. I have some brilliant learners," Nie noted, proudly referring to his six apprentices.

In 2008, Fenghuang's paper craft was listed into the state-level intangible cultural heritage.

"Boys or girls, or anyone who want to learn, I will teach them," Nie said. "Because I feel a duty to pass this ancient heritage to younger generations."

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