When intangible cultural heritage meets entrepreneurship

Aksu (People's Daily) - Strolling in Hall B for the 2023 "Xinjiang is a Nice Place" Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition held in Aksu Prefecture of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from Wednesday through Sunday, many masterpieces of intangible cultural heritage can be seen on display.

The masters here also shared their stories on how they leverage intangible cultural heritage to help and influence the people around them. Together, they are making a brighter future.

Sculptor Wu Shaojie has been working on his studio and his own brand – Jiang Xiao Tao, which means "clay figurines from Xinjiang."



Wu Shaojie adjusts his exhibit at the 2023 "Xinjiang is a Nice Place" Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition held in Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Friday. (Photos: Dong Feng/People's Daily)

For this exhibition, Wu displays a set of colored soft clay sculptures inspired by the Silk Road titled Camel Bell on the Silk Road. Originally from Zhoukou, Henan Province, Wu has now settled down in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Wu has taken 60,000 yuan ($8,231) in orders for his custom products at the exhibition.

"Many other exhibits in this Urumqi section have sold out all their items," Wu told the People's Daily on Friday.

Helping through Heritage

Wu started working in colored soft clay in 2007.

In 2010, Wu came to Xinjiang for college. After graduation, he started his journey of entrepreneurship.

This year, Wu's display — the Camel Bell — won the "Most innovative Intangible Cultural Heritage Award" at the First Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Competition and was added to the Chinese Folk Intangible Cultural Heritage Project Library.

He has at least 10 apprentices, each of whom has kicked off their own business.

In addition, Wu works with communities in his city and teaches sculpture to people with disabilities and jobless people. Through joint efforts, monthly sales of these innovative products can reach 6,000 yuan.



Ma Yaolan works on an embroidery piece at the 2023 "Xinjiang is a Nice Place" Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition held in Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Friday.

Wu is not alone in his efforts. Ma Yaolan, a master wool weaver from Xinjiang's Bortala Mongolian

Autonomous Prefecture, has set up a master studio, which provides free training to people with disabilities.

Ma, who is of the Hui ethnic minority, said that she aims to help her students work from home and increase their incomes. She has developed a variety of products ranging from simple collectors' items to umbrellas, handkerchiefs and everyday attire.

"Even though I don't make money off this training, I'm happy to see my apprentices create better lives for themselves," Ma said, who drove about 20 hours to reach the exhibition in Aksu.



Embroidery work by Ma Yao Lan and her team displayed at the 2023 "Xinjiang is a Nice Place" Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition held in Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Friday.

Empowered Influencers

Moving forward, masters of intangible cultural heritage assets are ambitious about expanding their influence and helping more people.

Wu said he would like to set up centers for cultural heritage, and the trip to Aksu has inspired him to come up with more innovative ideas.

"Qiuci [an ancient Buddhist kingdom] culture in Aksu is so rich that I must spend more time to dive in and absorb the cultural elements, I will take my time and create more sculptures inspired by Aksu," he said.

More of my students will be able to think about the long term instead of making fast money, and we can focus on tourism-focused products to benefit more, Wu added.



Bayin Tala writes calligraphy for a visitor at the 2023 "Xinjiang is a Nice Place" Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition held in Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Friday.

Bayin Tala, a master of Mongolian calligraphy from the Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, has taught after-school classes at his children's activities center twice a week for a decade.

In 2013, the Mongolian Calligraphy Society was established. It is the only one of its kind in Xinjiang.

So far, it has 56 members, Bayin Tala told the People's Daily.

"When my students enroll in my class, I give them about 50-yuan worth of supplies, including brush, ink, ink stone and paper. All I want is to help them learn more about this intangible cultural heritage," he said.

At least 20 visitors came to his booth asking for his calligraphy since Wednesday, which he gave out with pleasure for free.


Time:2023-09-22      admin:China culture      Views:233

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