Guangzhou's Huangpu tiling skills have made a significant contribution to the restoration of local ancient Chinese buildings.
Huangpu tiling skills not only encompass tile covering but also involve other skilled crafts like smoothing, line making, pressing, and scraping in the entire roof renovation process.
The essence of Huangpu tiling lies in "alignment," according to Chen Beihai, an experienced tiler in Guangzhou. "First of all, tilers need to make sure the surface of the tiles is straight and neat both horizontally and vertically."
Each row of tiles on the roof will form a drainage ditch, while the interior of the ditches and the areas between the ditches should be aligned with each other.
One also needs to have alignment in mind when they consider the laying sequence inside the tiles. For any three tiles, the vertical line of the third tile must still be on the first tile to ensure that even if the second tile in the middle is broken, it will not affect the flow of rainwater along the other tiles.
The skill of Huangpu tiling was regarded as one of the eight essential skills in the construction industry in ancient China. It is still of great significance today as an important skill to renovate ancient buildings.
Tiler Chen Beihai works on the roof of an ancient building at the Shabu Ancient Architecture Cluster in Huangpu.