Traditional arts and crafts preserved in province

By YUAN SHENGGAO| (China Daily )| Updated : 2020-11-18

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Licang district in Qingdao, Shandong province is playing an important role in protecting traditional Chinese culture, especially for smoke painting and Zhaquan boxing.

Smoke painting is a past method adopted to help preserve paper-cut and embroidery patterns. It uses fire to "copy" the original patterns onto papers.

While keeping its original form, smoke painting achieves a combination of the artistic effects of both paper-cuts and printmaking. It is also called ancient Chinese reprography.

Smoke painting focuses on the spatial layout of a picture and its symmetry. The color and luster of the painting are always uniform and soft.

Smoke paintings often feature individual stories, flowers, birds, architecture and traditional Chinese auspicious ornamentation. The variety of offerings truly reflect the original folk custom's high historical value.

However, the development of modern photocopying technology has gradually phased out smoke painting from people's daily lives. The ancient craft was once on the verge of extinction.

But Licang district, located on the Jiaodong Peninsula, is among regions working to preserve the craft across China.

Liu Yuxiu and Ai Songlin, two inheritors of smoke painting from the Jiaodong Peninsula, won a Shanhua Award in 2004 for their collaborative work. The Shanhua Award is a top-tier award of Chinese folk arts issued by the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Association.

Zhaquan boxing is a type of traditional Chinese martial art. It originated from Shandong province during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and was selected as a national intangible cultural heritage item in 2008.

The boxing is highly recognized in southwestern Shandong and has spread to Shanghai, Jiangsu, Henan, Jiangxi, Beijing and Yunnan in modern times.

Combined with modern competitive martial arts, Zhaquan boxing is playing its part in promoting national fitness.

Gao Henglun, 75 years old, is an inheritor of Zhaquan boxing from Licang district. He began to learn the boxing art at the age of 8.Since then, Gao has practiced martial arts for more than six decades and wants to spread the word about Zhaquan boxing in modern society.

Martial arts are not just about self-defense, Gao said. They are a great way for people to stay in physical form and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Ai Songlin, an inheritor of smoke painting from Licang district, shows students an example of the unique craftsmanship. CHINA DAILY