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Laowai @Chongqing - Foreign Guests Experience Traditional Arts and Music in Shitan Village

By James AlexanderICHONGQING|Jun 19,2020

Chongqing- Over May, June and July 2020, Ba’nan District is running a series of events under the banner ‘Laowai @Chongqing,’ which offers foreign residents the chance to experience local intangible cultural heritage and witness the achievements in poverty alleviation.

Towns and villages around Ba’nan District are hosting unique events at different locations in Ba’nan District each weekend, so participants are welcome to join and gain a new experience every time.

Cultural Experience at Fangxin Village Guesthouse

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Participants from various countries including Ethiopia, South Korea and the UK try their hand at making zongzi, a traditional Chinese snack eaten around the Dragonboat Festival.

On June 14th, the fifth Laowai @Chongqing event took place in the town of Shitan deep into the picturesque countryside of Ba’nan District.

The morning’s activities were held in the courtyard of an old farm building that was converted into the attractive ‘Shiyi Ju’ country guesthouse. Tourists can experience the tranquil beauty the natural settings in a building that fully retains a minimalist, rustic charm, while discreetly blending in essential modernities so that guests needn’t feel they are off grid.

First on the day’s list of activities was the experience of making zongzi, a Chinese snack traditionally eaten around the Dragonboat Festival, and prepared by cooking glutinous rice, grain and cured meat bound within a pair of banana leaves.

Once the guests from countries including Ethiopia, South Korea and the UK had practised the basics, they took part in a challenge where they needed to prepare as many passable zongzi within ten minutes. The task is certainly easier said than done, as each I tried, the zongzi either fell apart, or ended up completely the wrong shape!

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A musician performs a variety of traditional scores to a mesmorized audience at Shiyi Ju Guesthouse in the countryside of Ba’nan District.

Next up was a talk and demonstration of traditional Chinese zither music. The musician explained the instrument’s early origins, demonstrated an array of techniques, and finished with a graceful performance that filled the audience with that floating, heavenly sound the zither is famous for producing.

The Korean guest Jin Junghwa described his feelings, ‘The Shi Ju guesthouse building reminds me of home. Making Zongzi was very challenging, but a lot of fun. This is a great way to experience Chongqing fol culture, and I’ve had a wonderful day!’

Calligraphy, rice grain art, and folk song in Shitan Town

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A guest from South Korea tries to create a picture by gluing coloured grains of rice to a wooden board, an artform perfected by local students in Shitan Town.

After an open air lunch in the guesthouse courtyard, guests and organisers travelled to the central square in Shitan Town. 

Local students had set up an art exhibition that featured images made from coloured grains of rice. They demonstrated the intricate technique of gluing rice to a wooden base grain by grain with the use of a pencil, and then allowed guests to try the artform out for themselves.

Along the opposite side of the square, local calligraphers taught participants how to write Chinese characters with ink and brush. The skill involved in painting an attractive and balanced character can take many years to perfect, but guests still greatly enjoyed practicing their brushstrokes, and later posed for another group photograph to show off their works.

The day came to an end with the opportunity to sing traditional country folk song. Two brave guests stepped forward and repeated after the teacher line by line, and in full voice. While the melody and rhythms naturally inspires the singer to drop their inhibitions, the lines were difficult to remember, and needed a good few repetitions to get right!

Nevertheless, everybody involved enjoyed the experience very much, and so another fun day of intangible culture drew to a successful close.

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Overseas residents in Chongqing joined the latest event of Laowai @Chongqing held in the picturesque countryside of Shitan Town, Ba’nan District.

Upcoming events from Laowai @Chongqing

Below are the proposed dates and locations of upcoming events themed on intangible cultural heritage and rural traditions. There are 20 places available for foreign guests in each event and are free of charge.

Overseas residents interested in attending one or more events may contact Mr. He Liujin at bntqw@126.com, or by telephone 66231839 (English available).

June 20th – Shilong Town and Jielong Town

June 23rd – Fengsheng Town and Shuanghekou Town

July 4th – Tianxingsi Town and Jiangjie Town

July 11th – Huimin Area and South Hot Spring Area

July 18th – Lijiatuo Area and Maliuzui Town

July 25th – Longzhouwan Area and Yudong Area

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