Xu Shuquan, a retired primary school teacher from Chengdu city in Sichuan Province, has dedicated the past 60 years to folding paper planes. The 70-year-old now has a collection of 10,000 planes of different sizes, colors and shapes, in addition to various paper dolls and models of the 12 zodiac signs.
What’s so great about a grown man making paper planes, you ask? Well, Xu’s planes aren’t like those simple ones that kids make. He uses a complicated ancient origami-like folding technique called ‘Zhezhi’ to make a variety of aircraft models – from jumbo jets to fighter planes.
In fact, Xu put his knowledge of Zhezhi to good use during his teaching career: “When children were naughty or not paying attention, I would get their attention by folding a simple paper dart with a message on it and flying it to them,” he said. “The planes got more and more complicated and the children seemed to love them.” The trick would backfire at times because his students loved the planes so much that they would create a ruckus on purpose.
According to Xu, Zhezhi is China’s own ancient art of paper folding that is said to pre-date Japanese origami. It was traditionally used to make figurines of boats and carts, and even fake gold nuggets that are burned at funerals for the dead to take into the afterlife.
“Our craft has been eclipsed by origami in the West and I would very much love to be the person to revive it,” said Xu. “My biggest hope is to hold my own exhibition where people can learn more about the traditional art.”
Photos: China News