10 Minutes – Liang Zhirong

Sometimes you can get to the cutting edge by going back to your roots. As one of China’s most celebrated musical craftsmen, Liang Zhirong has traveled the world, filling his passport by creating beautiful traditional hand crafted folk instruments. The instruments are made from memory without any templates, using instincts born by 300 years of family history. Liang is 43 and hails from Sanjiang County in Guangxi Province. Growing up in the Dong minority region, his upbringing was steeped in tradition. Starting with his great-great-grandfather, the Liang family patriarchs have long been recognized as great musicians and artisans. His father was called the King of Lusheng by the locals, and it was his father who and taught him to play, handing him his first instrument (a traditional bamboo flute) at the age of 7.

Liang Zhirong

Liang eventually began to pay attention to how the instruments were being made and found he was a natural, even improving on designs over the years. He is an artist in residence with the Long Tan National Art Troupe and it is with that group that he has traveled to Japan, South Korea, America and Hong Kong. Multi-talented, he is also an actor and an accomplished painter. In fact, it was with his painting that he first garnered wide recognition. His main focus now is to preserve the regional folk arts. The government provides him studio space and pays his salary and so far, he has “re-discovered” over 20 traditional instruments, re-crafting them in his studio and teaching others how to play.

Liang at work in the studio…

When he’s not traveling around Guangxi looking for lost art, Liang spends his days in his cluttered, sauna-like studio, fabricating instruments from bamboo, gourds and other local woods. Some of the results include a traditional fiddle made to resemble a cow’s leg, a gourd flute and a double flute made of bamboo.

Liang Zhirong demonstrating some of his handi-work…

I met Liang on a photo-shoot for the Guangxi Tourism Bureau and afterward  he invited me to come take a look at his studio. I’m glad I did. If your ever find yourself in Liuzhou, head over to Long Tan Park, bear left past the children’s amusement park and head for the Yao Minority Village. The replica “village” is a disappointment but in the first building you come to you’ll likely find Liang Zhirong at work in his studio, crafting his latest instrument. He’ll happily perform an impromptu concert. Friendly and reserved, he comes alive when he’s playing…

Love the shirt…

This will likely be my last post on the wordpress.com blog. The new website is nearly ready to launch and I need to concentrate on getting it finished before the next term begins in September. I may go ahead and launch from there even before I have everything fully integrated..I’ll make sure to post the new url and links, you’ll want to keep an eye out as I’m giving away a bevy of freebies for those who register to get the feed. Details forthcoming, until then…


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~ by Expatriate Games on August 14, 2010.

7 Responses to “10 Minutes – Liang Zhirong”

  1. Good piece and pictures about Liang Zhirong’s work.

  2. It’s a a real treat to see these images. Nice photo essay and storytelling!

  3. Nice post Mike. Enjoyed the read and the photos as always.

  4. Just beautiful images.. they all tell a story and they tell it so well.. as a fellow photographer (and about to return to China for three months) I appreciate the talent you have.. I suspect that I shall now be your number one fan 🙂

    • Oh I bet you say that to all the China photographers! 😉

      Hey I couldn’t get to your Wix from the link you left Sue, do me a favor and check to see if it is what it is supposed to be, I’d like to see your work!

  5. Nope.. only to the ones who do outstanding work like yours..

    I don’t know why the sites didn’t work.. I’ve just checked them both and they are working fine from here – and they aren’t blocked in China as my partner is living there at the moment and he;s not had trouble accessing them..

    try these links though.. maybe I made some typos lol http://www.chinadreams.net/ http://www.suekimephotography.net/ although I’m afraid that your work is of a much higher quality than mine.. *sigh*..

    I found your blog quite by accident really, I was looking to find a blog site that is not blocked in China as I thought it would be a nice way to stay in contact with friends while I am over there, I have tried a few blog accounts here (in Australia) but so far no one in China has been able to access them – which means I won’t be able to blog while I am there.. Anyway I do enjoy your blog and will be checking it frequently for updates.. thanks for sharing!



  6. Nice work as always…
    Hope to see more from you…

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