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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 welcomes an international guest in front of a mural that features rice planting in spring during Grain Rain, one of the 24 solar terms, last year. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Since the murals were completed in September, the number of visitors to Duqu has risen significantly, says Li Lifen, a village official.

"We had more than 800 visitors one day during Spring Festival, which is rare for Duqu, since no outsiders came to the village unless it was to see relatives or friends," she says.

Li Lifen often shows the wall paintings to visitors, and can tell stories about them, as many characters they depict are real people.

Some historical buildings, now in disrepair, have also been featured in the paintings, and she says they will be restored in the future.

Business owner Shang Ziwen has noticed the emerging boon from rural tourism. The 20-something man with a gardening background has started a plant business in Duqu and sells to customers via livestreaming.

"Now that our village has undergone (infrastructure) upgrades and renovations, I also want to integrate my business with tourism," Shang says.

He is considering changing his business model. "For example, using my existing high-quality plants, I plan to create a landscape attraction in Duqu, and also serve drinks and snacks, to attract more tourists," Shang says.

Duqu is one of 46 villages along the banks of the Dianchi that local authorities have chosen as rural vitalization models.

They are precious resources with unrivaled environmental charm thanks to the extensive wetlands and green belts in the area, says Li Shaojun, a senior official with the Dianchi resort area.

Each of the villages will highlight a distinctive theme based on their own particular characteristics.

Li Shaojun says artists are welcome to join the rural vitalization drive around Dianchi Lake and favorable policies will be offered to facilitate their work.

Even now, Li Kunwu still gets invitations from Duqu residents, asking him to come back and spend time with them.

He is reviewing his murals and doesn't rule out a second round of painting in the village.

"I particularly hope that the younger generation will be interested in these nostalgic paintings. I hope they are able to understand our past lives, the yesterday of our cities, and our nostalgic feelings," says the artist.

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