The Ministry of Culture has produced a series of videos called The Soul of the Craftsman. On Thursday, a profile of craftsmen who restore art at the National Palace Museum was released in their honor
Lai Ching Tsung is a second generation restoration artist. He has patiently restored art at the National Palace Museum since 1974.
He said there is a sense of achievement when you restore a historical work of art. “We treat each work of art like it’s alive, like it’s a part of our lives.”
He says, “When I came to work here in 1974, we were trained mostly through apprenticeships.” He works with literature and documents, files from the Qing palace and the three ancient books.
“This one has been seriously damaged by insects. We fill in the holes. In this way, we have not changed its thickness,” he says. “As for restoring ancient books, we need to take them apart first before we figure out how to restore them.”
“The people before us were smart. They thought of later generations and how they bind the books so they are easy to restore,” Lai said. “Later generations will also have to restore them after us, so we are careful about how we bind them as well.”
“When I first started I didn’t really know much about these documents. But they have historical value. These ancient works have a soul,” Lai said.
“Sometimes when we see the damage on these works, we feel really bad for them. Once you’ve touched these ancient works, they will make a deep impression on you,” said Lai.
“As for me, I think we need to treat these works well. We need to write down our experience, skills and knowledge and leave them to people after us. That is the sense of mission we have every day,” Lai said.
Lin Mao Sheng is a first generation restoration artist. He began working in 1961 and retired in 2001. Lin says, “We want the works to look like they were originally so we fixed the areas that were damaged and let others know that this work has been restored.”