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Nostalgic murals help village paint a future

Images depicting rural life have become a tourist attraction, boosting local incomes and pride, Yang Feiyue and Li Yingqing report.

By Yang Feiyue and Li Yingqing | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-08 07:39

Li works on a mural in Duqu village last year. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Li takes pride in this mural, since it is a favorite for many villagers.

Additionally, he created a series of Pristine Era-themed murals depicting scenes of livestock roaming without being fenced in, and children carrying baskets to collect manure and using oil lamps to do their homework.

"These things have almost disappeared now, but I have experienced them all in the past. So, if they are not recorded, they will truly be forgotten," he says.

As Li's interactions with the villagers increased, they began to treat him like one of their own.

"They often brought me vegetables and fruit. When I was painting, people passing by would greet me, and even children going to school would shout 'uncle' when they saw me," he says.

So far, Li has completed just over 100 murals of differing sizes that the villagers have come to view as treasures.

Some are in black and white, some in color, some in the form of comics, and some in the form of ink paintings.

All were created based on Li's understanding of the history of Duqu village through multiple surveys. He wanted his paintings to not only depict the joys and sorrows of its people but also to reflect the development of rural areas along the coast of Dianchi Lake, especially traces of rural vitalization.

Zheng Sicong has grown very attached to Li's murals.

"The things he has painted are really true to life," says the septuagenarian, who has lived in Duqu for more than five decades and for whom the paintings have been among the great changes over the years.

"In the early years, the village was full of dirt roads. Some people made a living fishing, while others relied on farming to support their families," Zheng says.

In recent years, improved policies have resulted in dirt roads in the village being paved with cement, and clean public toilets built.

"Everything is much cleaner, and now we have these beautiful pictures painted on the walls," he says.

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