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A culture brimming with vitality

By XU HAOYU | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-04 11:41
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Baiyelong dance made an immediate impression on TV viewers at the Asian Games' opening ceremony in Hangzhou. YI FAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

From delicate designs to dragon dancing, Zhejiang province shows its colorful heritage, Xu Haoyu reports

To further promote the integration of traditional intangible cultural heritage into modern life, on the eve of, and throughout, the Asian Games, organizations from various regions have engaged in the study and presentation of traditional culture.

Last month, students from Hangzhou Vocational and Technical College visited Xiangshan county in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, to learn about the local intangible cultural heritage together with villagers. Their visit saw them witness firsthand woodblock printing techniques and Fuyang oilpaper umbrella craftsmanship, among other skills.

One particular aspect of Zhejiang culture, Baiyelong dance, made an immediate impression on hundreds of millions of TV viewers at the Asian Games' opening ceremony.

Back in July, the Changxing Baiyelong dance troupe was informed that Baiyelong dance had been selected as a warm-up performance for the ceremony. Baiyelong, which literally means "a dragon made of 100 lotus leaves", was inspired by a local legend about a dragon born in a lotus pond. During approximately two months of rehearsals, the troupe continuously refined the program to set higher requirements for everyone's positioning synchronization and connection.

Zhejiang's culture is rooted in both intricacy and vitality. Take for example the assembly process of the oilpaper umbrella's frame.

Connecting the umbrella ribs, handle and top requires processes such as splicing and threading. These steps, which seemed incredibly easy in the hands of Wen Shishan, a representative inheritor of the Zhejiang provincial-level intangible cultural heritage technique, are actually quite challenging for beginners.

Each step requires the utmost patience and attention to detail.

Although the process was tough and time-consuming, the sense of excitement was palpable among both villagers and students when they saw the beautiful oilpaper umbrellas gradually coming together in their own hands.

Through this umbrella-making experience, people gained a deeper and more genuine appreciation for the dedication and perseverance embodied in the craftsman's spirit.

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