China celebrates its Cultural and Natural Heritage Day every year on the second Saturday of June. Every intangible cultural heritage has experienced the transformations in time. This collection of pictures will take you through these time-honored intangible cultural heritages. (Photos: Renminhao Platform - Ifengtravel, VCG, compiled by Deng Wei)
Chinese shadow puppetry is a form of theatre performed by colorful silhouette figures made from leather or paper, accompanied by music and singing. During the performance, shadow puppetry artists stand behind the screen and manipulate the figures while singing stories in popular tones with stringed and percussion music, which is very iconic for traditional Chinese village life. In 2011, Chinese shadow puppetry was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Chaozhou wire rod puppetry, which originated from shadow puppetry, is also known as the Paper Shadow Puppetry. Since the Qing Dynasty, artists started to remove the paper screen from the stage for a better display, and changed the plat puppets into three-dimensional ones with painted heads made of clay, bodies made of straw, paper hands and wooden feet. In 2006, it was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
This is the traditional firing technology of Longquan celadon. Longquan Kiln is the celadon kiln with the longest history of porcelain making, biggest kiln area, highest product quality, largest production and export scale in China. The kiln was built in the Western Jin Dynasty and took shape in the Northern Song Dynasty. In 2006, the traditional firing technology of Longquan celadon was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
Xuan Paper making technique is one of the four great inventions of China. Xuan Paper, or rice paper, is an outstanding representative of traditional handmade paper. Making Xuan Paper involves as many as 108 steps and has strict requirement for the water, materials, tools and techniques. On May 20, 2006, Xuan Paper making technique was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
Batik, or wax printing, is an ancient printing technique of Chinese ethnic minorities. Batik is to dip a wax knife into the melted wax and paint the flowers with blue indigo after dyeing. When the wax is removed, the cloth surface presents a variety of patterns of white flowers with blue background or blue flowers with white background. In 2006, batik was included in the national intangible cultural heritage list.
Kites made in Weifang are easy to fly. Birds, animals, flowers, fishes, insects, folk stories and fairy tales are the main subjects painted on the kites or shapes of kites. In 2006, the kite making technique was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
Shu embroidery, also known as "Sichuan embroidery" originated in Western Sichuan. In 2006, Shu embroidery was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
Bamboo weaving, or woven bamboo wares with porcelain bodies inside, is a handicraft in Qionglai, Sichuan. Since the Qing Dynasty, craftsmen started to weave on tinware. Later, because materials for tinware became rare, craftsmen weaved on porcelain, and they found the products even more beautiful and popular. From then on, woven bamboo wares with porcelain bodies inside became an independent handicraft. In 2008, it was included in the national intangible cultural heritage list.
Beijing inner-painted snuff bottles have witnessed the development of China’s tobacco industry in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Inner painting, as a special craftsmanship, not only includes traditional folk craft such as carving, inlay and filigree, but also brings together a variety of Chinese and Western painting techniques, which have become the epitome of the development of handicraft at that time. In 2008, it was included in the national intangible cultural heritage list.
Yixing's purple clay pottery has evolved with the development of tea culture in China. It is in line with the traditional aesthetic standards of the Chinese people and the aesthetic tastes of ancient Chinese literati class. Purple clay pottery has always been rich in both practical and artistic appreciation. In 2006, it was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
Engraved block printing technique was invented in the Tang Dynasty and became popular until Bi Sheng invented the movable type in the Song Dynasty. It was the primary technique in ancient China’s printing industry. In 2006, it was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
In the Chinese tradition of weaving Nanjing Yunjin brocade, two craftspeople operate the upper and lower parts of a large, complicated loom to produce textiles incorporating fine materials such as silk, gold and peacock feather yarn. In 2006, craftsmanship of Nanjing Yunjin brocade was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
Chinese paper-cut is a craftmanship that using scissors or chisels to cut or engrave patterns in paper for decoration or other customs. At present, paper-cut is still popular throughout China and in various ethnic groups. In 2009, it was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity .
Wenxi dough figurine is a traditional pastry in Wenxi County, Shanxi Province. It has a long history and is closely related to local customs, such as festivals, sacrificial rites, weddings, birthdays, funerals and house-warming. There is neither any handed down model for reference nor any existing sample to base on. It is made by the deft hands of local women. It is called “the art of mothers”. In 2008, it was included in the national intangible cultural heritage list.