Category Archives: Culture

Hangzhou speeds up efforts to build world-class historical city

Actresses donning traditional Chinese costumes give a performance at Hangzhou Intime Department Store. [Photo/Zhejiang Daily]

Hangzhou plans to press ahead with the initiative to turn itself into a world-class historical city as this year marks the 40th anniversary of Hangzhou’s inclusion into China’s first-batch of historical and cultural cities.

The city will develop scenic spots including the Grand Canal Culture Park, the Liangzhu Archaeological Relics Park and the Westlake Love Culture Park.

Hangzhou will also promote the construction on the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) Palace Relics Park, also known as the Southern Song Museum.

The city will continue to host cultural events including the Song Culture Festival, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal Dialogue, Westlake Day and Liangzhu Day.

The city is aiming to have the added value of its cultural sector hit 300 billion yuan ($43.47 billion) in five years.

Hangzhou accredits 53 new rural (community) museums

In order to record and preserve regional civilization, Zhejiang Provincial Cultural Heritage Administration issued documents to support extensive construction of modern rural museums that have rich cultural deposits and distinctive local features. Hangzhou has recently added 53 accredited rural (community) museums which will be open to the public for free. This indicates that all the tasks of provincial and municipal level people-centered practical projects have been completed in advance.

Featured by local rural culture, these museums help to boost self-confidence of rural areas for their culture. For example, Shunan Exhibition Center of Qiantang District falls into seven units, including “Liangzhu Culture”, and “Shang & Zhou Culture”, to clearly narrate the historical and cultural venation of Shunan Village. Fuyang Yuan-era Book Paper Culture Exhibition Center in Fuyang District displays the complicated procedures for the production of the papers of books in the Yuan Dynasty and promotes the image of Fuyang as the “China Hometown of Bamboo Paper”.

One of the features of Hangzhou’s rural (community) museums is that they are  characteristic celebrity culture museums based on the locality to serve the community. For example, Chen Duoru Exhibition Center of Xiaoshan District displays the history of business development of bankers during the period of the Republic of China, demonstrating the rich cultural deposits and strong commercial atmosphere in Linpu, where the museum is located.

In addition, museums are combined to present theme exhibitions. They also invite the local cultural bureau and medias to jointly publicize and display the distinguished cultures of respective districts and provide the museum maps for the public’ s quick references to the distinguished cultures of the museum.

A heritage that is carved in stone

Qian Gaochao teaches students carving skills.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Craftsmen in Zhejiang province use their knowledge passed down over generations to mark the Asian Games in a manner that will stand the test of time, reports Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou.

Craftsman Qian Gaochao and his son, Qian Youjie, spent more than six months making three “chicken-blood “stone carvings depicting the taekwondo and wrestling competitions of the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, which will be held in Lin’an district, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, next year.

As a national inheritor of the intangible cultural heritage of the chicken-blood stone carving technique and a master of Chinese arts and crafts, Qian Gaochao says: “It’s a great honor to be able to contribute to the Asian Games, held in my hometown, through my handicraft.”

In the chicken-blood stone museum in Changhua town, Lin’an district, Qian Gaochao says that he is working on the other carvings related to the Asian Games. The previously postponed event will run from Sept 23 to Oct 8, 2023. This allows him more time and he is working on the carvings, featuring imagery of the equestrian competition, which is scheduled to be held in the Tonglu Equestrian Centre in Hangzhou.

Chicken-blood stone is one of the most prized ornamental materials in China and has been used for centuries to create carved works with characteristic red markings.

Stone for the carvings is found in the riverhead area of the West Zhejiang Grand Canyon in Lin’an. Geologists discovered that the quarry in the mountain was created by volcanic activity 75 million years ago.

Changhua stone comes in many distinctive colors, including red, yellow, brown, white, sky blue, and green, among others. Ironically, the color of red chicken-blood is rare, thus very precious. With its vibrant blood-red color, bright crystal-like jade texture, quality and shape, chicken-blood stones are renowned the world over.

In 2008, the Changhua chicken-blood stone carving was added to the national intangible cultural heritage list, and it was also included in the first batch of national catalogs for the promotion of traditional craftsmanship. This was jointly issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2018.

The artistic value of Changhua chicken-blood stone lies in its adaptability. It can be made into ornaments of various sizes and forms, such as pendants, rings, bracelets, necklaces, waist tags and other accessories.

It is not only a mineral specimen that records geological upheaval, but also a cultural relic that reflects the productivity of different eras, living conditions and folk customs.

The cultural connotation of the stone also lies in its integration with Chinese customs, wishing people well and social morality. For example, red, favored by Chinese people, represents joy, victory, success, luck and fortune.

It has become a cultural icon to deepen bilateral friendship in diplomatic activities. In 1972, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai gave the then Japanese prime minister Kakuei Tanaka and Japanese foreign minister Masayoshi Ohira Changhua chicken-blood stones as State gifts when the two countries established diplomatic relations.

In 1986, a seal of Changhua stone was presented to then US president Ronald Reagan. In 2016, the Changhua stone sculpture “Haliaeetus Albicilla Duda Portrait Seal” was presented to Polish President Andrzej Duda.

In September 2016, 36 sets of portrait seals, designed and produced by the chicken-blood stone museum, were given as gifts to guests who attended the 11th G20 Summit held in Hangzhou.

“I am a craftsman, so the content and themes chosen for my carvings keep up with the times, representing the style of the era,” Qian Gaochao says.

“I’m not only doing carving work, but also recording the development and changes of our society, and remembering the era through the medium of my carvings.”

Qian Gaochao has created fascinating works, many of which are related to important events in Chinese history, including the Zunyi Conference held in Guizhou province in January 1935. He has also done work to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and to mark the Site of the First National Congress of the CPC.

Qian Gaochao has also carved portraits of famous people who have made significant contributions to the country, including the 10 marshals and 10 generals, for their roles in the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct 1, 1949.

Other portraits include those of the late agronomist Yuan Longping, who devoted himself to agricultural education and research, pharmacologist Tu Youyou, the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of artemisinin, and Huang Xuhua, chief designer of China’s first-generation nuclear submarines and a recipient in 2019 of the Medal of the Republic, the country’s top honor.

The use of Changhua stones dates back centuries.

According to research by experts of the Hangzhou Museum, which is based on the cultural relics unearthed from the Banshan tombs of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), Changhua stones, in the Yue state, were mainly used for weapon-shaped ritual vessels, including sword heads, blades, vortex rings on the grip, cloud dragon patterns on scabbards, spears and daggers.

“We are also recruiting qualified people, such as graduates of the China Academy of Art, art teachers from Shaoxing University, and some calligraphy teachers, to continue to inherit and innovate these traditional skills,” Qian Gaochao says.

“Additionally, we often hold research activities and provide training courses, enabling more young students to understand and learn Chinese traditional culture,” he adds.

Fuchun River night gala kicks off

[Photo/Facebook account: Hangzhoufeel]

The night gala themed around the Fuchun River Landscape kicked off in Tonglu with a series of wonderful activities such as distinctive performances and intangible cultural heritage project display and performance on August 29.

It is to celebrate and promote the Qiantang River Poem Cultural Heritage Ecological Reserve cooperated by Tonglu county, Fuyang district and Jiande city.

The museum presents Song-style cultural and creative exhibition

“Gifts for Hangzhou Asian Games – Exhibition of Selected Cultural Gifts of the West Lake and Xixi Wetland Scenic Areas for Hangzhou Asian Games” kicked off in Hangzhou West Lake Museum on the morning of August 25. A total of 98 creative cultural gifts from the West Lake and Xixi Wetland Scenic Areas, including foods and non-food gifts, on display at the exhibition, comprehensively narrated the cultural stories of the scenic areas with different cultural creations and ideas. All units of the two scenic areas presented their special treasures and strove to outshine others through creativity and innovation.

Hupao Spring Water, which has been deeply rooted in the memory of Hangzhou citizens, adopts greenish blue, the typical color of the Southern Song Dynasty, as the main tone of its bottle to highlight the cultural vibe of the Song Dynasty. Five popsicles, which are designed after lotus flowers of West Lake, the scenic spot of “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”, and a cute squirrel in the West Lake named Youbao, are extremely popular among audiences.

“Paintings on Woven Bamboo Wares with Asian Games Elements” as the intangible cultural heritage can express people’s expectations and blessings for Hangzhou Asian Games. Also, exquisite and tasty Chinese cakes and pastries, instead of moon cakes, in the design of ten views of the West Lake, are presented together with gift boxes decorated with patterns of the moon, mountains and rivers.

All these creative cultural products are subjected to offline appraisal by the panel of experts and online voting. While bringing brand-new visual experiences to the citizens and tourists, they also make contributions to integrating culture into daily life.

Building in Hangzhou set to nourish culture

As the Hangzhou branch of the China National Archives of Publications and Culture welcomed its first visitors in early August, it became another landmark in the capital city of East China’s Zhejiang province.

Located not far from the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City, one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city, the venue is an addition to Hangzhou’s already impressive list of iconic places.

Covering 103,100 square meters, the Hangzhou branch of the archives is a major architectural complex consisting of 13 buildings and structures.

As well as helping preserve China’s bibliographical resources, it incorporates exhibition halls, libraries and museums, among other facilities.

It is designed to promote the preservation, exhibition, research and exchanges of China’s archival heritage, and function as a repository for the National Archives in Beijing in the event of a potential disaster, according to Wu Xueyong, who led the preparatory team for the establishment of the venue.

“As the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), Hangzhou is a city with a profound cultural heritage,” Wu says.

“Therefore, what lies at the heart of the venue’s archival collection will be the Song Dynasty culture. In addition, the focus will mainly be on those archival materials from the area of Jiangnan (south of the Yangtze River’s lower reaches).”

Historically, as a book-loving nation, China used to boast thousands of cangshu lou-ancient libraries aimed at collecting and preserving books and publications.

Figures show that Zhejiang was among the provinces that built the highest number of cangshu lou, with more than 800 erected since the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Some 11 still stand today, among which is the Wenlan Ge (also known as the Imperial Wenlan Library) in Hangzhou, built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1711-99) as one of the seven libraries for the collection of Siku Quanshu or the Complete Library of the Four Treasures.

The Hangzhou branch of the archives, named Wenrun Ge, which roughly translates as “culturally nourishing and gentle”, is, to a large extent, a continuation in the spirit of the Wenlan Pavilion, and its architecture is full of ingenious Song Dynasty cultural elements.

For one thing, the design of the entire site follows the style of Song Dynasty gardens, according to Wang Shu, chief architect and winner of the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

With next to no surviving gardens or buildings from that period for reference, Wang and his team turned to Song-era paintings for inspiration.

“From the very beginning, when we chose the site-an abandoned mine with several deserted hills-we have taken Song Dynasty aesthetics into consideration,” explains Wang.

“Gardens in the Song Dynasty were not built relying on artificial rockeries; the more natural the surrounding environment, the better.”

Therefore, all the architectural structures at the venue were built with minimal alterations to the original setting.

Now, without any special design, the view in front of the main building-called the main study-resembles the famed painting Travelers Among Mountains and Streams by Fan Kuan of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

Another unique feature is the many standing screen doors, again inspired by the screens in Song Dynasty paintings, with the celadon tiles tailor-made at the Longquan kiln in Zhejiang’s Lishui city.

“Both in color and texture, celadon looks quite like jade,” says Wang. “It echoes the name ‘Wenrun’, the name of the venue, which means as gentle as jade.”

While drawing inspiration from the Song culture, Wang emphasizes that the architecture is far from a simple imitation of the past.

“It is completely modern,” says Wang, including the 15-meter-high rammed earth wall of the main building, arguably the world’s highest.

“I call the design concept ‘modern Song Dynasty culture’, meaning it is a modern interpretation and innovation of tradition,” he says.

Only in such a manner can Chinese traditions and culture be better passed down to future generations, he adds.

Grand Canal exhibition held in Hangzhou


The poster of The Grand Canal as Epic on Earth exhibition. [Photo provided to]

An exhibition titled The Grand Canal as Epic on Earth: Contemporary Art Themed on the Grand Canal of China is currently taking place at the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang province.

The exhibition showcases over 80 artworks, including traditional Chinese paintings, oil paintings, calligraphy, art installations and sculptures, that depict the achievements made by the Grand Canal cultural belt.

The exhibition primarily uses present the history and scenery of the Grand Canal to audiences.

The Grand Canal is the oldest and longest manmade waterway in the world and has a history of more than 2,500 years. The canal, which was named a world heritage site in 2014, connects Beijing and Hangzhou and was used as a major transportation artery in ancient times.


A collection of some of the exhibited works in the Zhejiang Art Museum. [Photo provided to]

The exhibition will run till October 11.

Song-style artifacts made with paper tell stories

Hangzhou International Arts & Crafts Week 2022 and Hangzhou Disabled Persons’ Federation jointly launched cultural and creative brand of “super artisans”. Six super artisans showcased the crafts of paper cutting, paper lantern making, and fan making with their dexterous fingers on the site.

Ruan Xiaoping, a member of Hangzhou Disabled Artists Association, taught children how to imprint ink paintings on the oiled paper umbrella on the site. Despite the mutilated right hand, the artist could draw perfect paintings and provided free lectures for disabled persons loving calligraphy and painting. She combined painting with traditional craft of oiled paper umbrella making. Shang Zhenzhou, a septuagenarian with hearing impairment, shared the same enthusiasm for art. He inherited craftsmanship for Shangren lantern making from his elder generations and has become an idol for enthusiasts of Chinese traditional culture.

The memories of the city have been imprinted on the artworks which were created by artisans as well as by ordinary citizens. The experience activities in the Arts & Crafts Week narrated the stories of tradition, modernity, innovation and inheritance.

Since its opening, Hangzhou International Arts & Crafts Week has also attracted French and Italian artists to present their artworks, promoting the construction of the International Cultural Creativity Centre.

Ancient relics come to life with technology

When Zhang Han set foot inside Liangzhu Museum in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, the 10-year-old put on a pair of augmented reality glasses and embarked on a tour that took him back more than 5,000 years.

From exquisite jade artifacts to pottery, the museum displays various burial objects found in the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins have gained worldwide recognition as bearing testimony to the existence of at least 5,000 years of Chinese civilization.

Wearing the smart glasses, Zhang was presented with virtual images of relics as well as related background information, such as the real-life scenarios in which they were used, their functions and cultural significance.

“It’s such a wonderful journey. Everything is true to life,” said Zhang from Tianjin.

Augmented reality glasses feature among a string of measures taken by the museum to give visitors a more vivid and immediate experience of Liangzhu civilization, while helping them gain a better appreciation of Chinese culture.

Tourists can also visit the official website of Liangzhu Museum to enjoy a virtual tour through high-definition pictures and virtual reality. With a click of the mouse, they can gain access to exhibition halls that they may never be able to visit physically.

Advanced technologies are increasingly playing a major role in Chinese museums. Long before the digital exhibition of cultural relics, digital technology was used widely in archaeological research and heritage protection, said Ma Dongfeng, executive director of Liangzhu Museum.

A big data monitoring center has been set up to better preserve the Liangzhu ruins near the museum. It closely monitors the temperature, humidity and flow of tourists. If the data from certain sites exceeds the limits, emergency responses will be launched, according to Ma.

In the northwestern Chinese city of Dunhuang, which is known for the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mogao Grottoes, the “digital Dunhuang project” has made extensive use of digitalization. By the end of 2021, it had completed the digital collection of 268 grottoes, the image processing of 164 grottoes, and the 3D reconstruction of 45 painted sculptures, 146 grottoes and seven large relic sites.

The protection and revival of Dunhuang’s ancient culture is not an isolated case in China. The Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi province also have 3D “digital archives”, which allow precious cultural relics and historical archives to be permanently preserved.

Hangzhou International Craft Week 2022 was launched with paper artworks and thousand-year Song culture

Hangzhou International Craft Week 2022 was officially launched in Hangzhou Creative Design Center on the morning of August 18. With paper, one of the four great inventions of ancient China, as the material of the objects, the five-day exhibition has an assembly of elaborate domestic and overseas paper artworks to carry forward Chinese paper art.

Inspired by A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains, the exhibition displays “Song culture” and “Asian Games Culture” with paperwork, and creates a paper world featured by verdant mountains and lucid water through the four theme areas and eight experience activities.

As a contribution to carbon neutrality and carbon peaking, above 90% of the materials used for in-situ architecture are 100% recyclable fireproof paper materials. The four theme areas display the selected domestic and overseas paper artworks, including Hangzhou Yuhang Paper Umbrella, Italian Stationery Rossi, Japanese Creative Paper Toy Paper Zoo, and large-scale origami works, such as “white rhino” and “girlish southern lion”. Also, visitors can experience all kinds of paper arts and interact with the artists on site.