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Master craftsman in Qidong keeps tradition alive with handcrafted wooden top

Updated: Jun 3, 2024 en.nantong.gov.cn Print
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Wooden spinning tops made by Zhou Zhenwei, a resident of Fengsheng village, Qidong. [Photo/WeChat account: qdrmt0513]

In Fengsheng village, Donghai town, Qidong, there lives a skilled artisan named Zhou Zhenwei, who, at nearly 70 years old, excels in crafting wooden spinning tops.

Zhou's workshop is filled with materials for making wooden tops and a wooden lathe. Using various tools for cutting and carving wood, he can quickly create adorable little spinning tops. According to Zhou, it takes him less than five minutes to produce a wooden top, but he employs quite a few tools in the process.


Various woodworking tools are seen in Zhou's workshop. [Photo/WeChat account: qdrmt0513]

Zhou began making wooden spinning tops in the 1980s, initially just for his own children to play with. However, they eventually became immensely popular, and when he set up a stall selling them at the school gate, he could sell over 100 tops in a single day.

Playing with wooden tops requires a certain level of skill. Zhou explains that to make a top spin, one must carefully wind the whipcord around its waist and place it on the ground. A quick pull of the whipcord will set the top spinning naturally. By continuously whipping the cord, the top will keep spinning. However, if one loses focus or strikes the cord incorrectly, the top may stop or wobble and fall over.


Zhou plays with wooden tops. [Photo/WeChat account: qdrmt0513]

In addition to wooden spinning tops, Zhou is also skilled in making other wood products, such as suona, a traditional Chinese wind instrument.

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