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Inspiration from out of this world

By Zheng Jinran in Gu'an, Hebei | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-03 08:11

When television showed the life in the Shenzhou VI manned spacecraft in 2005, Jiao Xuefeng was amazed to see an astronaut playing a puzzle game featuring facial makeup of Peking Opera, a work of his father.

"The makeup's design was downloaded from our website (and used for the puzzle game)," the now 24-year-old man says, still excited. "It showed that our online promotion worked."

Jiao is the seventh generation of the family in the making of Peking Opera masks. Learning from his father, Jiao Yingming, who always wore a Tang suit of traditional Chinese clothes, he has practiced the painting of facial makeup since he was 7.

The younger Jiao likes to wear jeans and to find new tools to promote their family inheritance - including the Internet.

To let people know more about this traditional art, his father bought a computer and built a website in 1999, when few families were able to afford such a high-tech product in China.

The young son began to learn how to use the computer when he was only 10 and went to a training class for website design and management.

"From zero hits at the beginning to the top ranks among sites for online research, I constantly push the information on various platforms at home and abroad," says the new graduate with a computer programming major from a university in Hebei.

"That brought us many orders through modern ways and it's also the reason that our products' design went out to space."

Now the young man eyes the new booming market - the application for smartphones, "which directly connects to individuals, especially our potential customers - young people", he says.

"It's also urgent to give correct information on historical characters, since many online games with the background in ancient China have misled young users with wrong stories," he says. "Stories may be easy to follow if they go with vivid facial masks, especially in small games."

Inspired by the puzzle game played by the astronaut, he has been trying to incorporate the traditional art into as many smartphone applications as possible.

"I hope some people would like to join me in developing this kind of app for systems like iOS and Android, making more young people at home and abroad know this tradition," he says.

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