Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Real-Life Black Smith

We know who a black smith is. But have we seen a black smith at work? Do they even exist anymore?

We were taking a walk through the little town Changkou in Gansu early in the morning in June, and I heard someone banging something. There, on the side of the street was a blacksmith setting up work. He had coal burning in a hearth, tongs, box bellows, hammers, anvil, bars of metal, ...

Pulling on the handle of the box bellows sucks air into the bellows; pushing it in forces air onto the coal, making the coal burn stronger, raising the temperature, softening the metal for shaping, ...

He does not look like a modern day artist trying to revive or conserve an ancient art. But a real-life black smith trying to make a living making or fixing small tools for local farmers. Fascinating. I wonder for how long can he survive in this world. He looks old enough. When he passes away, will there be a younger one to take his place? Will there still be demand for his skills? I doubt it.

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