Xi Focus: Xi's care for intangible cultural heritage bears fruit

Publish Time: 2021-06-09 Author: From: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, visits a company producing Tibetan carpets to learn about how it leveraged the advantages of local resources and used new design concepts to boost its products' competitiveness, create jobs and increase the income of locals in Xining, northwest China's Qinghai Province, June 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

XINING, June 8 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, has stressed developing more local specialty industries and achieving better development through innovation.

Xi made the remarks on Monday afternoon when visiting a company producing Tibetan carpets during an inspection tour of northwest China's Qinghai Province.

Tibetan carpet is a traditional handicraft on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau with a history of more than 2,000 years. In 2006, the Jiaya Tibetan carpet weaving skills were inscribed in China's first group of national intangible cultural heritage items.

Yang Yongliang is an inheritor of Tibetan carpet weaving skills from Huangzhong District of Xining, the provincial capital. He started learning to make Tibetan carpets in childhood.

"I have been in the trade for over 40 years. Once I considered myself just an ordinary craftsman," said the 59-year-old. "But now, I am the inheritor of a national intangible cultural heritage. The country has put an important responsibility on us. I will work my best to preserve and pass on the craft."

In recent years, Yang has taught over 200 students from across the province.

Tibetan carpets were used by early herders in high-altitude regions to keep warm, but today, many people use them to decorate their houses.

"They are now not mere household items, but also art pieces with rich history and culture," said Xue Ting, chairperson of Shengyuan Carpet Group Co., Ltd. in Xining.

The firm has built on the traditional craftsmanship of the carpets and adopted new machine weaving techniques to create innovative, fine patterns at a fair price.

According to industrial statistics, the varieties of Tibetan carpets in Qinghai have increased from 26 to 130 over the years, with more than 1,000 patterns developed.

During a visit to the southern province of Guangdong in October 2020, Xi noted that proactive efforts should be made to train inheritors of the intangible cultural heritage.

The Chinese government has paid great importance to the preservation of cultural heritage and ethnic cultures.

China boasts 42 intangible cultural heritage items on the UNESCO's Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage as of late December 2020, ranking first in the world, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The country has established a tiered system of intangible cultural heritage, spanning the national, provincial, municipal and county levels.

More than 100,000 items have been registered in the system, including 1,372 at the national level. A total of 3,068 individuals are identified as representative trustees of national intangible cultural heritage, official statistics show.

In July 2019, after watching local artists perform the "Epic of King Gesar" during an inspection tour of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xi stressed the importance of preserving and promoting the culture of ethnic minority groups.

Today, the government of Bairin Right Banner, known as the home of Gesar culture, in Inner Mongolia, organizes regular trips to bring the performance of "Epic of King Gesar" to local schools.

Otgenhuaar, who leads a performance team to the schools, said she started learning about Gesar in 2014 and has since then trained 34 Gesar performers.

From 2016 to 2019, the Bairin Right Banner has organized seven training sessions for inheritors of intangible cultural heritage like her, with more than 400 people participating.

"Through the campus trips, we learn not only about the performance, but also the stories behind it," said Suld, a 13-year-old student and one of the young fans of the traditional art. "We get to know more about the history and culture."

In recent years, Xue's company allows customers to customize their own carpets and see the final products in several hours thanks to smart manufacturing.

"So far, Tibetan carpets have been exported to over 40 countries," said Xue. "We hope to continue to pass on the ancient craft with technological and managerial innovations."

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