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Song Dynasty’s Fair Reproduced in Wenzhou on 2022 Cultural and Natural Heritage Day
Date:2022-06-13 10:46:53 Source:Wenzhou·China Fonts:[ Large Medium Small ]

Zhejiang-style guqin ensemble in the activities held in Wenzhou for celebrating Cultural and Natural Heritage Day in 2022.

As time passed, myriads have vanished but local Chinese culture, folk crafts and people’s cherishing of both survived today.

For thousands of years, intangible cultural heritages (ICH) with distinctive glamour have been created in Ouyue (ancient Wenzhou). At present, the city has four ICH projects inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the ICH of Humanity, 35 on the national representative ICH list, 145 on the Zhejiang provincial list, and 779 on the Wenzhou municipal list. The number of the projects on the ICH lists ranks among the top cities with subordinate districts in China.

China’s Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, which falls on June 11 this year, is themed with "showcasing ICH splendor by connecting it with modern life". To celebrate the festival, the two-day event for demonstrating the ICHs of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and millennial Ouyue culture kicked off at the Wenzhou Grand Theater plaza. Through the activity, more than 50 representative ICH projects in eight categories are displayed in Wenzhou, highlighting brilliant ICHs about one thousand years ago in ancient Wenzhou. The ICHs include Wenzhou lacquer ware, movable wood type printing and folk customs activities during the Dragon Boat Festival. More than ten ICHs, such as Zhejiang style guqin, Yue Opera and tea-making method in the Song Dynasty, are presented in the form of artistic performances. Through ancient scene representation, these programs reproduce charming poetry and prosperous market as well as people’s daily life in the Song Dynasty. Meanwhile, offline ICH Shopping Festival and related online product livestreaming marketing are created to bring the public an all-round and immersive ICH experience.

Touring the Song Dynasty-style fair to experience then culture

Entering from the imitated antique archway of the offline ICH fair, you will feel as if you arrived in the downtown streets of the Song Dynasty: silk lanterns are suspended well-spaced from the eaves of turrets. The streets, with both sides lined with shops, are bustling with people, and shopkeepers’ voice for soliciting customers may drift to your ears; the tantalizing aroma of snacks in your childhood memories wafted with breeze across the street... In or out of the related shops, local traditional craftsmen show on the spot the production skills of ICHs, such as Wenzhou lacquer ware, Ou colour embossing, Taishun puppet head carving and Yueqing fine paper-carving. Visitors can't help stopping to appreciate their creating works with deft hands.

In the Southern and Northern Song Dynasties, lacquerware made in Wenzhou, as the nationwide manufacture center of the product, were reputed as the best, which was one of the bestsellers on the ancient Maritime Silk Road. He Bikuo from Longgang, fifth generation successor of He's traditional bodiless lacquerware, presented multiple pieces of wares of its kind in varied styles. “The style of the plain lacquerware, with a simple shape and a single color, was popular in the Song Dynasty,” he told the reporter, adding that in recent years, the market of traditional ICH and its derivatives has gradually been opened up with the public's enhanced love of traditional culture. In recent years, he has paid more attention to the combination of practicality and artistry in the research and development of lacquerware. “Only by letting lacquerware enter more people's lives, can the ancient craft be better inherited.”

The Chinese movable wood type printing was a great invention of the Song Dynasty. "Look, this seal for graduates, consisting of movable wood types, can be made according to customers’ requirements for their varied names, classes and schools" Wang Chuanqiao, 64-year-old successor of the printing, set up a stall in an eye-catching position at the center of the fair to promote the Ruian Dongyuan movable wood type printing and its derivatives. The products include seals, Huarong Road toys and other jigsaw puzzles made of the movable types, and the fans with characters printed with the types, which are favoured by young people. At the stall, the reporter came across a westerner, Ms. Bonino Gabriella (Chinese name: Tang Yun), an Italian who is keen on Chinese culture. “The Chinese traditional culture is extremely charming, and we should continue to vigorously carry it forward,” said Tang Yun, who has once published a book Discovery: Ruian’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in Italy, which expounds the movable wood type printing. Recently, she has received a letter of thanks for the book from the Secretariat of the President of the Italian Republic.

Experiencing Wenzhou’s folk customs and tasting its traditional food

To say what is the most delicious in this city, nothing can rival mouth-watering ICH food --- Bowen baked cake, Huling beef jerky, coral grass jelly, nine-layer cake, Rouyan (dumplings with pork-starch wrappers and pork fillings) and Puping braised goose... At the ICH food exhibition zone, Wenzhou’s over 30 kinds of such food are on display, and visitors cannot wait to have a taste. At the booth of "Zheng Jiayuan Brewery’s Wheat Wine", a smell of mellow wine assaulted your nostrils. The booth keeper said that the wheat wine has once been enjoyed exclusively by women during confinement after giving birth but now became a good gift among relatives and friends; the Yongjia wheat cake, as a tasteful snack, is a household name in Wenzhou. However, visitors are marveled at a super large wheat cake on display, weighing more than ten kilograms. On the cake was inscribed a poem extolling Yongjia landscape, which is written by Meng Haoran, a famous poet in the Tang Dynasty(689—740). At an old-fashioned square table, diners leisurely tasted the traditional ICH food, experiencing common people’s daily life.

The most popular ICH performances in Taishun are those with unique Ouyue folk customs. A dragon dance began. On the narrow Taishun Piano Key Bridge, in the gongs and drums, and a high-pitched melody from a suona, the ten-plus meters long and red silk-made “dragon” was made to turn up and down, and side to side, with the large and vivid head playing with a moving red ball (called a “bright pearl” in Chinese). All the movements are realized by the entertainers, who holding the rods supporting the dragon and the red ball, moved and leaped. The dance was reflected by the river. What an amazing performance!A lot of visitors were attracted to enjoy the dragon dance with lively interest. In another place, the Lantern Dance performance was on. As a prop, the “horse” is made of paper and bamboo strips and there is a large hole in its center so that it is fixed around a horsekeeper player’s waist. The players performed such dances as horse tumbling and rolling, and its washing and taming. The dance was postured in a rugged way and had a strong local flavor. In addition to the above, other ICH performances included Wanpai Township string-manipulated large-sized lion puppet with a wild gait, Ou opera with both singing and actions, and funny string puppet, drawing bursts of visitors’ applause.

An official of the Wenzhou Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Film and Tourism expressed the hope that through the activities, a strong atmosphere of “people sharing the people's ICH” can be created to promote ICH to better integrate into the lives of contemporary people, and to meet the people's needs and aspirations for a better life. In recent years, Wenzhou has made remarkable achievements in the protection and inheritance of ICH --- in 2020, Wenzhou was selected as one of the eight “ICH-in-communities” pilot cities in China by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism; in 2021, Wenzhou took the lead in building the brand of “100 ICH workshops” in China. In the same year, the city innovated and implemented new ways, new spaces and new forms for ICH extension in urban communities, hold an international forum on the development of traditional Chinese medicine ICH for the first time, launched a series of short publicity videos entitled “Let the world see Wenzhou’s intangible cultural heritage”, and created and put on a play on ICH at the opening ceremony of the Culture City of East Asia. These efforts have enabled Wenzhou’s ICH to truly appear on the international stage, and to launch an new era of the city’s ICH dissemination worldwide.