Discover China: Tibetan youths become keen promoters of cultural heritage

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Publish Time: 2020-06-17 Author: Zhao Jiasong, Yang Jing From: Xinhua

BLACK POTTERY MAKING: TRADITION WITH FASHION

A craftsman works on a piece of Tibetan-style black clay pottery in Nixi Township, the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Deqen, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Sept. 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhang Yudong)

In Nixi Township of Shangri-La, locals have passed down an old saying for generations, "The most delicious tea is the butter tea made in black pottery by our mothers."

The special soil in Nixi has made it a major place for black pottery production. It is home to more than 100 varieties of black pottery with a history of over 1,000 years.

Larong Shoba, 28, was born in a family of black pottery makers. His father is one of China's earliest state-level intangible culture inheritors.

"I feel the black pottery is calling to me," said Larong Shoba. After graduating from college, he returned to his village to help his father develop his black pottery business.

As a growing number of tourists swarm into Nixi, black pottery gains more popularity. With the government's support, black pottery has become a symbol of Nixi and helped local villagers shake off poverty. Now about 120 households in Larong Shoba's village engage in the black pottery industry.

"Our family can produce thousands of pieces of pottery and the sales amount last year exceeded 600,000 yuan (about 84,700 U.S. dollars)," he said.

While believing the pottery inherits the crafts of his forefathers and records their ethnic cultural symbols, the young craftsman insists the pottery be reborn with new forms, instead of only being made into pots. He is willing to customize products to meet market demand, such as coffee cups and decorative pendants.

"My father always told me and other apprentices that we should learn how to make the traditional forms of the pottery first, then we are qualified to create new products on our own," he said.

"It's important to preserve the tradition, but in my view, promoting Tibetan black pottery to the world is more significant right now," he said. "The young generations focus more on the design of the products, so we need to make our products fashionable and attractive to the youth."

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