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Flower festival blooms as tradition fully blossoms

Annual Huazhao event offers up examples of cultural experiences, Wang Xin reports.

By Wang Xin | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-19 06:01

The Huazhao Festival at Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai is offering visitors an immersive spring tour through traditional Chinese culture. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

A stage for heritage

One of the most popular activities during Yuyuan's Huazhao celebrations is lacquer fan painting, which is regarded as an innovative expression of lacquer craft — an intangible cultural heritage in China.

Lacquer is a natural resin extracted from lacquer trees, and China is believed to have been the first country in the world to use it. Archaeological findings show that lacquer ware first appeared in China about 8,000 years ago.

Zhangwu Wanqian, a brand specialized in creative cultural products featuring lacquer, was invited to the festival to offer visitors the experience.

"Instead of using a tool like a brush, lacquer fan painting is done only by the lacquer and water. The process is extremely simple, visitors first choose the colors they want to use, drip the colored lacquer into the water, stir it, place the fans in the water for a while, and then remove them. That's it," explains Ruan Xiyuan, founder of the brand.

She also says that the process of making each fan is like opening a blind box, as no one can know in advance how the finished product will eventually turn out, and so every fan is unique. In addition to fans, the brand also sells other creative cultural products like ornaments, accessories and tea trays.

Having made a buzz on Chinese social media platforms, Ruan shares the same goal as the festival's organizers.

"We are seeking to integrate innovative and modern expressions with intangible cultural heritage as we believe this path will allow more young people to get to know ancient craftsmanship and contribute to its preservation in a long term," says Ruan.

"We also hope that one day products representing traditional Chinese culture will be seen across the world."

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