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In search of the last of Shanghai’s craftsmen

In some primary schools in the outskirts of Shanghai, children learn the traditional arts of weaving and basketry.

Having read an article about local craftspeople in Shanghai Daily, we contacted the newspaper to meet some of these people still working in the area. With their contact info in hand, we head out on metro line 11 to its last station, than by taxi for 20 minutes in search of Mr. Gu, a basket-maker who, in the 1990’s, had worked with famous French fashion designers. We find him in the sports and cultural center of this small town outside of Shanghai, where he kindly shows us around his workshop and small shop inside the same building. His workshop is openly supported by the state with the aim of preserving traditional know-how and supporting seniors. The atmosphere in the workshop is joyful, older women cheerfully weaving baskets designed by Mr.Gu. We leave the workshop in search of another artisan mentioned in the newspaper article. At the indicated address, nobody seems to know the artisan even when we produce a picture. After much insisting and knocking on most doors on the street, we finally find his son, who has apparently transformed the workshop into a mahjong salon.