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Livestreaming helps promote old crafts

China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-27 10:46

YINCHUAN — In the absence of a professional setting and a fill light, a mobile phone and a mobile phone holder are all that Du Zhanping can count on for his livestreaming efforts.

Yet it was through this basic setup that the 46-year-old man in Xuanhe township, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, was able to promote a traditional felt-making skill known to viewers across the country.

In the husbandry region of Ningxia more than 1,000 kilometers from Beijing, people used to make felt by pressing, rubbing and rolling wool, creating items that were once featured in the dowry of almost every woman.

Du is an inheritor of this traditional skill, which is on the regional intangible cultural heritage list. Each generation of his family has made a living based on this skill. With the improvement of people's living standards over time, however, felt has been used less and less, resulting in the craft's decline.

In 2021, after taking an entrepreneurship training course, Du opened an account on short-video platform Kuaishou to try livestreaming about the traditional felt-making process.

Starting from scratch, he taught himself how to shoot and edit videos, which have drawn 150,000 followers to his account. One video alone has attracted more than 18 million views.

"Every morning, I do livestreaming for more than two hours, chatting with the viewers and answering their questions," Du said while using a bow-shaped tool to make his wool fluffy. Normally, he receives three to five orders during a single livestreaming session.

"Thanks to social media, my number of felt orders has now doubled, with those from online platforms accounting for about 70 percent of the total," he said. "Had there not been online platforms, I might have already given up, and the traditional skill might have been lost."

Du is just one of many benefiting from livestreaming, which has helped breathe vitality into intangible cultural heritages in recent years.

In Haiyuan county in Zhongwei, Ningxia, 42-year-old Qiao Yaru is an inheritor of traditional embroidery, another regional intangible cultural heritage. She recently finished a livestreaming session in her studio, featuring dazzling handbags, clocks, lamps, fans and pendants embroidered with different patterns, which sold well among youngsters.

"After watching my livestreams, many young people, including those from Generation Z, become interested in our traditional skills," she told Xinhua. "From this remote landlocked region, livestreaming is helping promote our artwork to distant places."

The format has also increased the incomes of local people, as more of them are getting involved in the industry. After training, Qiao's fellow villagers have the potential to get their embroidery pieces sold through online platforms, raking in more than 2,000 yuan ($278.60) a month.

"By bringing intangible cultural heritage into livestreaming studios, we cannot only introduce them to more people while preserving traditional techniques, but also expand their markets to boost both the confidence and income of inheritors," said Wang Xiaoqin, deputy head of the cultural center of Zhongwei. "In this way, we can revitalize our traditional treasures."


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