Taiwanese Stone Carver Gives His Art Away to ‘Predestined’ Passersby

By Lisa Huang
Lisa Huang
Lisa Huang
June 20, 2013 Updated: June 20, 2013

Taiwanese stone carver Zhang Quan displays his artwork at a roadside in Penghu. He carves poetry, songs, inspirational quotes, and children’s rhymes into stones. But none of these pieces are for sale; instead, Zhang gives them away to passersby with whom he senses a “predestined” relationship.

Zhang, who never formally studied stone carving, travels all around Taiwan’s various islands searching for beautiful stones. He then engraves them with rows of Chinese characters, using both regular Chinese and seal script, an ancient form of Chinese writing.

One inscription says: “Without virtue, the mountains shall be overgrown with weeds.” 

Zhang said a friend shared this quote with him, and he found it very meaningful. “It gave me a deep understanding of virtue,” he told New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD TV).

Zhang said he used to carve with chisels, but later he taught himself how to use electric tools. “I had to slowly teach myself to use them, and gradually polish my skills from the ground up,” he said.

Over the past 20 years, Zhang has created hundreds of masterpieces. 

Although Zhang has been offered high prices for his stone carvings, he has always kept to his original policy that his art is not for sale. 

“I carve these stones only so that I may gift them to each predestined individual when we meet,” he said.

Zhang said he has made many friends through his craft and his gift giving. 

Translation by Virginia Wu. Research by Sunny Chao. Written in English by Tan Shu Yan.

Lisa Huang