(CNN) -

With more than 6,000 years of history, China's ancient capital of Nanjing has been the birthplace of many of the country's most intriguing traditional arts.

Today, a handful of skilled artisans are keeping these endangered practices alive.

Sophisticated and elegant yet not exclusive to the wealthy, these six Nanjing art forms offer insight into China's diverse yet dwindling collection of intangible attractions that, for the most part, remain hidden behind studio doors.

CNN sent Sun Chen, a Nanjing-based photographer, to visit six studios in the city and talk with the artisans.

Engraved Buddhist scrolls

Sitting in a traditional Chinese building with a scenic garden, Nanjing's Jinling Buddhism Publishing House was founded in 1866 by a Buddhist scholar.

Today, the building also serves as his resting place.

The printing house specializes in engraved Buddhist scrolls utilizing a technique that can be traced to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) -- the technique was recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2009.

First, engravers carve Buddhist sutras onto wooden blocks, which are then printed onto paper.

The scrolls are then sorted and bound by hand.

"It takes half a month to complete a wooden plate of 800 words," says nationally recognized senior engraver Ma Meng-qing, who has worked at Jinling for 33 years.

"Some of the more famous sutras, like the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra, each consist of 16 wooden plates."

The house stocks more than 130,000 plates carved with Buddhist sutras and images.

Called the "Jinling version," products from Nanjing are highly regarded among Chinese temples for their accuracy and clear layouts.

Jinling Buddhism Publishing House, 35 Huaihai Road, Bai Xia District, Nanjing; open only by appointment

Paper cuts

Drawing a Chinese language character with a single brush stroke is difficult enough -- try swapping the paint brush for scissors.

Added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2009, paper cutting is a folk art practiced by various ethnic groups in China.

But Zhang Fang-lin, aka "Jinling Holy Scissorhands," says Nanjing's creations are unique.

"Flower within flower, theme within theme; roughness with delicacy, rawness with spirit," says Zhang.

This means smaller patterns and stories are hidden within the larger framework of the artwork.

Nanjing's paper-cut artwork is known for its curves and complicated lines, a technique that's been refined by Zhang's family.

Zhang is the fourth generation of his family in the business.

After China's state television CCTV showcased his work in 2013, pirated versions of his Chinese zodiac designs started appearing all over the country.

Legend has it that his skill was challenged only once.