A Taiwanese artist has made what could be the smallest ever model tiger. The tiny sculpture is designed to mark the Year of the Tiger, which starts on 14 February.

Chen Forng-shean carved the piece from an artificial resin – it’s just 0.04 inches (1mm) tall and 0.05 inches (1.2mm) wide.  It’s so small the tiny tiger can pass through the eye of a needle, according to the artist from Hsintien in Taipei county.

The 54-year-old had to make ten attempts before he could complete the tiny piece. “If the hands shake a little bit, the work would jump away and disappear,” he said.

“For this tiger, the toughest part is because it is three-dimensional. It can be looked at from any angle and still seem very lively. “Colouring is also very hard, with the patterns on his back and the red colour on his tongue,” he said.

Chen has been making these sort of miniatures for the last 30 years, although always on an amateur basis. He also holds down a day job as a mint plate designer at Taiwan’s Central Bank. He says the tiger took him three months to finish, working four hours a day on the tiny piece.

He says his secret is to concentrate intensely after holding his breath. “My job is dealing with very fine things, so I learned to breathe and hold my breath. Now when I take a breath, I can hold it for 60 seconds, and then I can engrave every stroke with the rhythm of my pulse.”

Although not for sale, the work has been valued at T$3 million (US$95,000).

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Bill Lehane
Bill Lehane, 28, is a journalist and freelance writer from Dublin, Ireland. He recently returned from six months working as a teacher in east China, which gave him a chance to experience many of the wide, weird and wacky sights that make up daily life in the Middle Kingdom. However, he did not succeed in teaching the local teenagers anything whatsoever: they still love Michael Jackson, KFC and themselves. More at billlehane.com.
Bill Lehane

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