On 9th of March, 2008, Mr.Qiu Yisheng became the first apprentice of Cao Yijian, the famous artist of the hairy monkey production.
“Hairy monkey as a particular folk artwork of old Beijing, combines the briskness of monkey and the creation of the artist perfectly.”
But with the passing of time, Mr. Cao’s health is not as good as it once was, making hairy monkey no longer an easy job for him, therefore, he decided to adopt an apprentice in order to let the hairy monkey business carry on.
Qiu: “My master Mr. Cao is now 83 years old, during the seventies, he had contributed a great deal in recovering the art of the hairy monkey. There was a period of time when the art of hairy monkey had faded away, Mr. Cao used his childhood memory once again to bring the art of the hairy monkey back to life.”
Qiu: “During Qing period, there was this herbal medicine shop called ‘Nan Qing Ren Tang’, the owner of the shop was very nasty towards his staff and one day to mock the boss, staffs mixed four Chinese herbals together and created a monkeylike doll. Surprisingly the boss did not get angry, and instead, he started to make money out of the hairy monkey.”
Qiu: “There are a few themes in my work, one of them is old Beijing, to present its tradition, its culture. Another one would be sports, since it’s the Olympic year, I want to make something to remember it by.”
“The making of hairy monkey is not an easy job, it’s rather time consuming. Because the size of the monkey has to be tiny, therefore special tools were required. Also creativity is the key, you have to be observant in every day life, it wasn’t just the making of a monkey, it should be the making of life.”
Yang：Creativity is essential in monkey making, every artist uses his work to present the hope and dream of the world.
“In the work ‘Gua Jiao Gong Du’, Mr.Li hopes the children will treasure time and study hard, therefore there was a book hung on the ear of the cow, also a cute monkey lying on top of the cow reading a book. The whole creature and what it indicates became very popular among the children and their parents.”
Even today, there are some young artists who dedicate themselves to this old Beijing art. On a street near YongHe temple, an artist named LinBo has opened a shop selling handmade arts, while in the meantime,free of charge, he teaches customers who are interested in making of hairy monkey the skills of how to make them, which is especially popular among the children.
The experienced artist has brought the art of hairy monkey back on the stage, and with the efforts of a new generation of artists like Mr.Qiu, Mr.Li, Mr.Lin, the art and antiques of hairy monkey will go on well into the future.