Tradition Mission

Century-old art meets Expo second time

By Cong Fangjun (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-08-17 09:36
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Are these grapes tempting? Do you want to put one in your mouth to taste?

The Empress Dowager Cixi, who was in power during the Qing Dynasty in China, had such thoughts when seeing these grapes for the first time on a winter day a hundred years ago before realizing that the grapes she saw could only be looked at because they were made of glass. Surprised and pleased, the Empress endowed a plaque to the producers of the glass grapes, the Chang family. For some time, glass grapes known as "Grape Chang" rose to fame in Beijing.

Strings of crystal clear glass grapes brought prosperity to the Chang family. When glass grapes were passed down to the third generation, the family was gradually becoming well-off. But, the five grandchildren became profligate sons of the rich. As the family business was facing ruin, the Changs decided to pass on the glass grape-producing skills to daughters rather than sons, making it a new family rule. Today, the fifth-generation successors of the glass grape business are the sisters Chang Hong and Chang Yan.

In 1915, the Chang family's stunning grapes debuted at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. After nearly a century, the Chang grapes make a second appearance at the Shanghai World Expo.

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