Reinventing China's olden arches

Updated: Nov 28, 2023 By XU FAN CHINA DAILY Print
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Beijian Bridge is one of the 32 ancient bridges in Taishun, Zhejiang province. Thanks to the joint efforts of the government and local artisans, the historical sites remain well-preserved. LIN ZONGYI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Having built 20 covered bridges, Zeng says that the structures have become a part of rural custom and culture. He says people in rural Zhejiang and Fujian provinces who have left their hometowns to work elsewhere find solace in the covered bridges, which helps relieve homesickness.

When traditional craftsmanship is revitalized by being passed down, the younger generation approaches heritage in a creative, modern way.

Bao Houji, director of Taishun's Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center, says that a series of cultural and creative products have been developed, including toy reproductions of its 32 ancient bridges.

Many newlywed couples, including those who travel specially to Taishun, like to use the covered bridges, which are mostly located in bucolic, picturesque surroundings, as the backdrop for wedding photos, making these old bridges even more popular and turning them into new internet sensations, adds Bao.

"Covered bridges are a unique but relatively niche form of cultural heritage conservation in China. They used to be an important element in public transportation and served as public gathering spaces for rural life. Nowadays, their preservation is an important pivot in passing on historical context and supporting rural vitalization," he says.

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