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The Living Heritage Bilingual Short Film Series

The Living Heritage Bilingual Short Film Series in "Tea for Harmony: Yaji Cultural Salon" will lead the audience on a profound exploration of the essence of China's intangible cultural heritage. Through this series, we aim to showcase the significant role of tea culture, Kunqu Opera culture, and Taijiquan culture in Chinese society and enable more people to understand and appreciate the treasures of China's intangible cultural heritage through bilingual presentations, fostering cross-cultural communication and understanding.Let us embark on this journey together and immerse ourselves in the profound depth of tea culture, Kunqu opera culture, and Taijiquan culture.

Living Heritage: Tea

A leaf fell into the water and changed its taste. Henceforth, tea was born. China is known as the home of tea. Since ancient times, tea has penetrated Chinese culture, leaving its aroma in poetry, etiquette and customs. Many tea lovers enjoy tea not just for its flavours, but also for the beauty of tea ceremonies. Picking tea leaves is an important spring activity in the Yangtze River basin in the South of China. The earliest batch of tea is often ready to be picked before the Qingming festival, which is observed in early April when temperatures are slowly rising and rainfall increases. This precious small output of tea, widely sought after for its outstanding quality, is called Mingqian tea. East China's Zhejiang province is acknowledged as a major producer of tea. White Tea in Huzhou city's Anji county and West Lake Longjing Tea in Hangzhou are two renowned teas in both China and abroad. In spring, local hillsides are filled with tea workers sowing seeds on their land. In the peak seasons, many tourists flock to witness the beautiful scenery of tea farms for themselves, while enjoying a freshly brewed cup of tea. Thousands of years ago, by the hands of Chinese people, a leaf was brewed into a delicious drink. It has travelled a long way and continues to bloom, even today. Traditional tea processing techniques and associated social practices in China were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2022.

Living Heritage: Kunqu

Melodious, exquisite and sentimental. These romantic features make Kunqu Opera one of the most beloved art forms in China. Born in Suzhou, in East China's Jiangsu province, Kunqu Opera distinguished itself by the virtuosity of its rhythmic patterns and became widely popular during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). During the Mid-Autumn Festival in Ming and Qing dynasties (1644-1911), opera troupes often gathered in Suzhou, staging theatrical extravaganzas in ancient China.Combining songs performed in the Suzhou dialect, graceful body movements, martial arts and dance, Kunqu Opera uses an endless variety of movements to express specific emotions. It also pays meticulous attention to each nuance. Graceful movements animate the fingertips and unique melodies evoke a rich and poetic world. Kunqu Opera exerted a dominant influence on many forms of opera in China thereafter, including Peking Opera, which is about 200 years old. It is hence known as the mother of all Chinese operas. As an authentic embodiment of Chinese culture, stories performed in Kunqu Opera have transcended time and space. The Peony Pavilion, written by playwright Tang Xianzu, who is often compared to Shakespeare, is still loved by fans from around the world. A living heritage is an endless dialogue between the present and the past, and Kunqu Opera is a carrier to pass that legacy on.

Living Heritage: Taijiquan

The fluid combination of slow, graceful movements and lightning-quick strikes easily sets taijiquan apart from other martial arts. The earliest traceable origin of taijiquan dates back to mid-seventeenth century in Central China's Henan province, home to its first great popularizer, a Ming dynasty general named Chen Wangting (1597-1664). In modern times, taijiquan has become popular among Chinese of all ages, genders and ethnicities. Its mental and physical health benefits have also garnered it enthusiasts across the world. Taijiquan, influenced by Daoist and Confucian thought, as well as traditional Chinese medicine, builds upon theories of body energies, the yin and yang cycle and the unity of heaven, earth and man. Unlike combat-oriented martial arts, it focuses on internal development, and is characterized by set exercises, breath regulation and the cultivation of a righteous, neutral mind. The black and white teardrop-shaped diagram of yin and yang was derived from observing shadows cast on a sundial at midday throughout the year. From these astronomical observations sprung many important aspects of the traditional Chinese calendar, such as holidays, seasonal divisions, the zodiac and the 24 solar terms. In 2020, taijiquan was added to UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Video source: China Daily