Nanjing Mochou Vocational School in Nanjing, capital city of east China's Jiangsu province, has trained more than 700 talents in the field of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) protection over the past two decades.
Today, at least half of them are practitioners in the industry of cultural relics restoration, becoming an important force carrying forward and protecting intangible cultural heritage, said Zhu Guomei, the principal of the school.
In 2001, the school launched the country's first major in ancient book restoration. That year, 22 students enrolled in the major, which was an unexpected result for Zhu. In the years that followed, ancient book restoration became so popular that the school upgraded the class into one that offers courses under a teaching scheme of higher vocational education in 2004.
The school also invited scholars and experts on ancient book restoration from the library of Nanjing University, Nanjing Library, Nanjing Museum, among others, to give lessons to students.
Qiu Xiaogang, an expert on ancient book restoration with the library of Nanjing University, is the chief lecturer at the school teaching students how to repair different kinds of damage suffered by ancient books, such as degradation caused by acidification, and damage caused by worms or mice.
Qiu's assistant, Xu Jixiang, also a teacher at the school, guides students through the world of cultural relics restoration, first by teaching them theoretical knowledge and then showing them how to make restoration tools such as tweezers. Xu was among the school's first batch of graduates majoring in ancient book restoration.
Over the past decade, the school has offered majors including cultural relic restoration and protection, restoration and binding of ancient books, framing and restoration of calligraphy and painting artworks, and making and restoration of ceramic ware.
It also launched courses on ICH, inviting ICH inheritors and craftsmen to give students lessons on the making of traditional Chinese handicrafts such as velvet flower and Yun brocade.
The center for ancient book restoration at the school is a place where craftsmen repair cultural relics and students put what they learn into practice. Since its inception in 2005, the center has repaired more than 10,000 pieces of cultural relics.
The school has established a design course for students to integrate the elements of ICH into the design of fashion products. Wang Tiantian, a teacher, said that the market-oriented course is intended to satisfy the requirements of enterprises and students are encouraged to participate in design contests to improve their skills.
Wang added that her students are currently preparing for a design contest by carrying out market research, designing products according to users' needs, making sketches, and printing samples with a 3D printer.