Thousands nationwide benefit from cultural heritage training

Updated: Jul 27, 2022 By YANG FEIYUE China Daily Print
Share - WeChat

A national intangible cultural heritage training program initiated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Education has yielded positive results since its launch in 2015.

Between 2016 and 2020, about 60 institutes of higher learning and some 20 creative design businesses across the country were involved in the program, with about 100,000 people also taking part. Participants received training on ways to study cultural heritage and apply it to modern life.

In October last year, an updated implementation plan was unveiled by the two ministries in conjunction with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. It called for the participation of 121 education institutions and projected the participation of at least 30,000 people between 2021 and 2025.

Li Shiya, who is in her 20s, is one of the program's beneficiaries.

She signed up for a garment craftsmanship training course that is part of the national program at Jiangnan University's School of Design in Jiangsu province last July.

The experience gave her the tools to set up her own design studio, where she produces ethnic embroidery using elements of batik, a dyeing technique.

Li's training also helped her learn a variety of design concepts, and she now better understands how different cultures express themselves through clothing.

"My understanding of clothing design was limited, but I was inspired [by the course] and have really benefited from the program," Li said.

Li was born in the Qianxinan Bouyei and Miao autonomous prefecture in Guizhou province, which is home to around 30 different ethnic groups.

"I've been interested in ethnic culture since I was a child," she said.

The training showed Li how to draw on her interactions with different ethnic groups while she was growing up in Guizhou.

One of her signature pieces is a long skirt featuring Miao ethnic culture elements-bird totems and abstract geometric images. She used boldly contrasting colors to highlight the patterns and explored the possibilities of embroidery on different materials.

Her dedication impressed Zhang Yi, a professor at the design school.

"We have held 15 intangible cultural heritage training courses for over 520 inheritors," said Zhang, who has studied traditional and fashion textile design for many years.

Young inheritors, including those from Guizhou and Hunan provinces, are being encouraged to combine traditional craftsmanship and modern designs in their creations.

"Dyeing, weaving and embroidering are traditional skills used by members of various ethnic groups in their daily lives, and areas with ethnic populations have entered a phase of rapid development as modernization is promoted in China," Zhang said. "Development has brought changes to lifestyles, and so their skills need upgrading to keep up with the times."

Accomplished embroiderers and colorists have been invited to give lectures to trainees, who also study a variety of art forms at museums during the courses.

"We also have had experts explaining traditional Chinese culture," Zhang said.

The goal is for young inheritors to use new designs and materials to produce items that customers want to buy, and which are of use.

Studies show that clothes and bags using traditional ethnic designs, especially those priced at 60 yuan ($8.90) or less, are among the most popular items in the cultural and tourist markets.

"So it's also necessary to be aware of public preferences before designing and making a product," Zhang added.

Students go through three learning phases in Jiangnan's program.

First, they spend a couple of weeks studying basic knowledge and skills on campus before being allowed to return to their hometowns to design their own products. They then return to school with the finished items for critique.

"As long as they are our students, the faculty will keep in touch, and not just during training, but also after it is finished," Zhang said.

So far, a number of students from the program have returned to their hometowns, mostly in rural areas, where they have started successful businesses.

Li attributed her success to the training.

"It hammered into me the need to first cultivate my own aesthetics as a designer and develop an eye for beauty," she said. "I now truly understand the way beauty has its origins in life."


Copyright©2023 China Daily. All rights reserved.


京公网安备 11010502032503号 京公网安备 11010502032503号