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Chongqing Intangible Cultural Heritage Experience Center

A dazzling collection of cultural and creative intangible cultural heritage products, such as Chongqing impression paper-cutting, 'Seventeen Gates of Chongqing Pyrography,' and bamboo cups were on display at the Chongqing Intangible Cultural Heritage Experience Center. Among them, a desk lamp with Sichuan-Style embroidery of stilted houses attracted mobs of fascinated tourists to stop and appreciate its beauty. The desk lamp has been selected as a cultural and creative product in 2021 Chongqing Gifts for Foreign Affairs.

The Desk Lamp with Sichuan-Style Embroidery of Stilted Houses Selected as "Chongqing Gifts for Foreign Affairs" in 2020 and 2021. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The Desk Lamp with Sichuan-Style Embroidery of Stilted Houses Selected as "Chongqing Gifts for Foreign Affairs" in 2020 and 2021. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Cultural recreation of intangible cultural heritage 

The desk lamps come in two shapes and ten patterns, all of which are recreated based on the old photos of Shibati old street, Mountain City Alley, and Linjiangmen Gate in Yuzhong District. Both the Sichuan embroidery and the wooden frames are purely handmade.

Exhibits of intangible cultural heritage products. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

"To better promote and pass on Sichuan-style embroidery, we made these Sichuan embroidery desk lamps with an elaborate design based on modern aesthetics," said Hua Mei, the creator of Sichuan-style embroidery desk lamps.

"It took us nearly half a year to create these Sichuan embroidery desk lamps. We made nearly 50 samples and overcame the difficulties, such as perishableness and inflammability under high temperatures. Finally, we skillfully integrated the elements of Chongqing stilted houses with these embroidery desk lamps, both practical and beautiful," she added.

Good cultural and creative products can integrate time-honored, rich, and profound traditional culture into everyday life, making them both enjoyable and meaningful for the people. The desk lamps with Sichuan-style embroidery of stilted houses won the gold medal in the 2020 Chongqing Yuzhong Cultural and Creative Product Design Competition, giving Hua Mei and her team the motivation to continue with their efforts.

Seventeen Gates of Chongqing Pyrography. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Bringing intangible cultural heritage into every household

Hua Mei and her team have been working hard to bring traditional Chinese crafts and intangible cultural heritage into people's homes.

"Collecting cultural and creative products of intangible cultural heritage is my hobby. During the process, I have come into contact with many inheritors of intangible cultural heritage at the national and municipal levels. I have traveled to more than half of the places in China and found many unique traditional crafts and exquisite works."

Hua Mei said that since 2013, she has been participating in various charitable events of culture and art, from which she has met many intangible cultural heritage artisans. But their crafts and works are not well disseminated. The inheritors of intangible cultural heritage have a relatively low income. "We want to build a platform that integrates the inheritors, cultural and creative products, and art performances of intangible cultural heritage, to have a systematic and professional promotion, sale, and inheritance."

Hua Mei (left) and her team made additional designs of traditional Sichuan-style embroidery. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

In 2017, Hua Mei and her team officially started their work in cultural and creative products. Hua Mei and her team have participated in designing, producing, and selling artistic and innovative intangible cultural heritage products and have set up online and physical sales channels. "Every piece of cultural and creative product we make must be of high quality. A good embroiderer can only produce three pieces at most in a week. And to train such an embroiderer requires the inheritors of intangible cultural heritage to teach them step by step." 

"Our company now has nearly 50 embroiderers, but it is still far from enough. We hope more people will learn traditional crafts and design more beautiful and practical creative products," said Hua Mei.

Bringing cultural products to the global

To protect and inherit the intangible cultural heritage is to protect the artistic genes and cultural foundation of the Chinese nation. Over the years, Hua Mei has been following her original aspirations.

In June this year, the first Intangible Cultural Heritage Experience Center was inaugurated at the Art Center of Kuixing Building in Yuzhong District, Chongqing. The Experience Center has launched more than 20 national and municipal-level experiential high-quality projects in five categories, including traditional opera and handicrafts, to enhance the public's in-depth experience and preservation of intangible cultural heritage in a multilevel and comprehensive way.

"The continuation of intangible cultural heritage cannot be separated from the protection and innovation of inheritors from generation to generation." Hua Mei said they intend to organize international cultural exchange activities by cooperating with Consulates General in Chongqing. The day the artistic and creative intangible cultural heritage products go global is just around the corner.

Children experienced pottery-making at the Chongqing Intangible Cultural Heritage Experience Center. (Photo provided to iChongqing)


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