Online platforms connect intangible cultural heritage and modern life in China

China’s booming online platforms have brought intangible cultural heritage (ICH) closer to people across the country, especially young people, who watch ICH documentaries, buy ICH-related products, visit exhibitions on ICH and have fun with crafts online. platforms.

Children enjoy sugar painting, a traditional Chinese folk art form and snack in China, during an intangible cultural heritage-themed fair held in a square in Sucheng district, city in Suqian, east China’s Jiangsu Province, on June 10, 2022. [People’s Daily Online/ Xu Jianghai]

On June 11, this year’s Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, ICH-themed activities were held across the country under the leadership of the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT), during which traditional foods , handicrafts, music, among other types of ICH, attracted more people’s attention and enhanced their knowledge of colorful ICH-related cultures and distinctive practices in ICH protection.

Given their popularity with young people, online platforms were widely used at these events to demonstrate and promote ICH.

To celebrate this year’s Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, a total of more than 6,200 ICH-themed activities were held, including more than 2,400 online, according to an official from the MCT’s ICH department.

This year, the Chinese short video sharing platform Douyin launched a thematic activity called “the adventures of intangible cultural heritage”. The online activity attracted many participants, including ICH heirs, internet influencers and representatives of ICH associations, who shared stories about ICH, unique ICH techniques and traditional ICH-related cultures. .

During a live broadcast on Douyin, an inheritor of Kouji (oral stunts), a type of performing art and national-level PCI in China, imitated various sounds with his mouth and received much applause from netizens. . Some have commented that the Heir itself can function as a voice acting team.

An heir to the art of making wooden combs showed netizens his outstanding skills through online platforms and became famous on the Internet.

Online platforms connect intangible cultural heritage and modern life in China
Kindergarten children in Zhongshan County, Qianxi City, southwest China’s Guizhou Province learn dragon dance, May 23, 2022. [People’s Daily Online/ Zhou Xunchao]

The country’s video platforms have also created a special section for public utility resources of ICH-related works, collecting more than 2,300 images and videos of ICH heritage and ICH documentaries.

In addition to gaining better knowledge of the wisdom and skills of ICH heirs through live streaming and other online activities, people can also purchase ICH-related products through e-commerce platforms to share the fruits of ICH protection.

In an effort to promote ICH protection and help ICH heirs and businesses engaged in ICH-related activities overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to win the battle against poverty, departments and Relevant offices of Chinese MCT, Ministry of Commerce and National Rural Revitalization Administration have been supporting e-commerce platforms by holding ICH-themed shopping festival on Cultural and Natural Heritage Day since 2020.

During this year’s ICH online shopping festival, an inheritor of a city-level ICH article, the traditional techniques of cooking beef from Yilong County, Nanchong City, Sichuan (southwest China), introduced special homemade products to netizens via live broadcast. The live broadcast drew nearly 22.47 million viewers and sold 8.36 million yuan (about $1.24 million) worth of products in one day.

Leveraging the influence of the ICH shopping festival, local governments have stepped up efforts to promote the development of beef-related industries. Four beef processing enterprises, four beef cattle production bases and a Sichuan pepper production base have been established in the locality, helping 375 people from 137 families lift themselves out of poverty and enjoy prosperity.

Other provinces have also taken steps to stimulate the consumption of IBO-related products during the IBO Online Shopping Festival. Focusing its efforts on internet-famous ICH heirs, eastern China’s Zhejiang Province encouraged ICH-related businesses to increase their popularity online by inviting netizens to virtual tours of their stores. via live broadcast. In North China’s Hebei Province, citizens were offered high discounts, more than 100 kinds of products and offline experience activities and encouraged to purchase ICH-related products and participate to ICH-themed activities near their homes.

Online platforms connect intangible cultural heritage and modern life in China
A girl in Hanfu, a traditional costume of China’s Han ethnic group, watches an exhibition at the China Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum and the National Museum of Arts and Crafts of China, June 2, 2022. [People’s Daily Online/ Du Jianpo]

As an important event held on the occasion of China’s Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, the ICH shopping festival aims to consolidate the results of poverty alleviation and facilitate rural revitalization. It attracted more than 7,500 online stores and e-commerce platforms selling ICH products and covered more than 4,000 ICH items. Diversified activities held during the ICH shopping festival across the country have generated significant social and economic benefits.

“Over the past two years, the PCI Shopping Festival has become a popular flagship event to stimulate cultural consumption. It can not only promote the legacy of ICH, but also increase respect and appreciation for the wisdom and talents of ICH heirs and help people develop. a stronger sense of cultural identity,” said an official from the MCT’s ICH department.

China is seeing a growing trend of integrating ICH into the Internet. While the emergence of online platforms and the rapid development of live broadcasts have explored new channels for the promotion and sale of ICH products, and effectively increased the income of ICH heirs, various types of ICH products, such as food, artwork and entertainment, are becoming an increasingly important part of people’s lives.

In recent years, many elements of ICH that were once neglected have begun to gain popularity in the country. At the same time, a good number of young people have not only become ICH fans, but have voluntarily joined efforts to protect and inherit ICH and buy ICH products.

Thanks to these positive changes, China’s centuries-old ICH is bursting with renewed vitality and vigor in the modern world.

(Source: People’s Daily Online)

James C. Tibbs