In recent years, there has been a growing appreciation of fine traditional Chinese culture among the people, especially the younger generations.
From the increasing emphasis placed on the study of ancient literature and philosophies, to the rise of the trend of Guochao, a fashion trend featuring a combination of modern designs and traditional Chinese cultural elements, and to the improved preservation of intangible cultural heritage, Chinese people’s passion for traditional culture is demonstrated in various scenarios.
ANCIENT WISDOM SHOWS NEW VITALITY
At the Eighth Nishan Forum on World Civilizations, held in late September in the city of Qufu, east China’s Shandong Province, guests from China and abroad received a special gift -- a traditional Chinese seal engraved with their names and Confucianist quotes.
These delicate gifts were produced by a seal workshop in Qufu. Song Wencong, 24, is one of the craftsmen.
“Most of my colleagues were much older than me when I entered this workshop six years ago,” he said, adding that more young people had joined the workshop in recent years.
“Many of them chose this career out of a love for traditional culture,” he said.
Currently, the workshop produces over 10 million seals annually, with a sales volume of 180 million yuan (about 25 million U.S. dollars). Tu Keguo, a researcher with the Shandong Academy of Social Sciences, said traditional Chinese culture, including Confucianism, can offer inspiration for solving the common problems faced by humanity in the modern world.
TRADITIONAL CULTURE BECOMES NEW FAD
The Henan Museum, in the city of Zhengzhou, central China’s Henan Province, has been working on integrating creative ideas into cultural relic promotion. The sales of its blind boxes of “archaeological finds” exceeded 40 million yuan since they were launched in late 2020.
“We combined the popular concept of blind boxes with cultural relics to allow people to experience the joy of physically digging replicas of relics encased in dirt,” said Song Hua, director of the museum’s cultural and creative office.
In recent years, China has seen the rise of Guochao. From cultural products in museums, to TV programs featuring ancient culture, and to the traditional style of clothing at fashion shows, Guochao is visible in many ways.
JongMay Urbonya, an American lady living in Beijing, is an enthusiast of Hanfu -- a traditional Chinese style of clothing.
She recalled that 10 years ago when she came to China as a high school student, wearing Hanfu was still a niche hobby. Thanks to the rise of Guochao, Hanfu has been gaining popularity among young Chinese, and JongMay has incorporated Hanfu into her everyday wear and is able to purchase different types of Hanfu online.
“In China, the traditional culture is not viewed just as history that appears on stage or in movies, but as a new fad that has blended into modern life,” JongMay said.
CULTURAL HERITAGE GAINS NEW LIFE
In a classroom of Longdong University in northwest China’s Gansu Province, students put on a show -- some manipulate shadow puppets with rods, making them step onto the “stage” -- a translucent cloth screen illuminated from behind, while others play music on gongs, drums, suona horns and other instruments.
The Daoqing shadow puppetry in Gansu, originating in the Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-220 A.D.), has been on the national intangible cultural heritage list since 2006.
The art was welcomed by people of all ages in rural areas. However, in the 1980s, with the popularity of films and TV shows, it started to lose its shine and many performers moved on to other jobs.
Daoqing shadow puppetry witnessed a change in fortune in 2020 when the Longdong University introduced it into classrooms and invested in textbook compilation, talent training and repertoire innovation to promote the inheritance of the art. One of the students, Zhang Liang, 20, has become the main puppeteer of the show after two years’ practice. An innovative shadow puppet show named “The First Shot in Longyuan,” which was performed by Zhang and her classmates, won a provincial literature and art award last year.
“The next generation shouldn’t miss out on these precious and beautiful arts,” she said.
In recent years, more forms of intangible cultural heritage have emerged from the shadows into the modern era. Last year, China authorised Tianjin University to grant the country’s first interdisciplinary master’s degree in intangible cultural heritage studies.
Earlier this year, the university launched its textbook compiling project for the undergraduate and master’s courses on intangible cultural heritage studies.