An intangible cultural heritage show opened on June 13 at the National Agricultural Exhibition Center in Beijing to mark this year’s China Cultural Heritage Day.
The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition, which lasted four days, was the first of its kind to be jointly organized by three governmental cultural agencies, one from each region.
The event showed the results of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regional intangible cultural heritage protection during the past 10 years, said organizers.
It displayed nearly 70 items in fields including traditional arts, craftsmanship, medicines, opera and acrobatics, and about 130 related products such as cloisonne vases, jade carvings, clay figures, Yangliuqing New Year paintings, paper cuttings and cloth paste paintings.
Cloisonne, called jingtailan in Chinese, for example, is also known as “copper padding thread weaving enamel”. It is an ancient technique for decorating objects, in recent centuries using vitreous enamel, with blue as the main color, and in older periods also inlays of cut gemstones, glass and other materials.
The China Red Sandalwood Museum, an inheriting company of the national-level red sandalwood carving handicraft, participated in the exhibition.
Its display, which was carved in the shape of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, a building in the north of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, was the largest in the show, standing 9 meters in diameter and 4 meters high.
Many visitors said they were impressed by the harmonious combination of Chinese traditional wood carving skills and ancient architecture, as well as its exquisite design and fine craftsmanship.
The museum also invited several wood carving masters to demonstrate their skills on-site, which enabled visitors to learn more about the handicraft and manufacturing procedures of furniture during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911).
The smallest exhibit was a hexagonal lantern-shaped gold ring, which was made using a Chinese traditional gold processing technique that was used to produce jewelry for royal families in ancient times.
Cheng Shumei, inheritor of this skill, said the technique involved an elaborate and complicated process, but endowed a unique beauty to the finished products, which have been warmly welcomed in China’s high-end markets in recent years.
Other exhibits included 20 dough sculptures made by Tang Suguo, who passed away in March at the age of 84.
His father, Tang Zibo, upgraded the status of dough sculpturing from toys found at street stalls to a refined art form.
Tang Suguo carried forward his father’s practice of incorporating diverse artistic elements into dough sculpting by extending the subjects from Buddhist and Taoist figures to those of several other religions, and from ancient Chinese literati and opera characters to those of modern music, dance, films and fashion.
The event gathered together a total of 140 inheritors, such as Wei Guoqiu, the fourth-generation inheritor of Wei kitemaking, and Huang San, who is famous for making snuff bottles with interior painting, which entails painting inside semitransparent glass or crystal objects so viewers can see the picture from the outside.
In addition, a parallel works contest was held during the event. The Beijing Traditional Artifact Design Competition received 392 entries from 127 companies and individuals, including jade carvings, kites and carved lacquer ware.
Thirty works received awards, including five gold prizes.