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A colorful view of history

Updated: 2022-03-10 08:39 ( China Daily )
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Yang Shixia (middle), a leading researcher at the Xiamabei site, discusses with fellow archaeologists during a research mission in Nihewan Basin.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Recently published findings, based on discoveries made in Hebei province, paint a deeper and wider picture of the evolution of ancient craftsmanship and aesthetics, Wang Kaihao reports.

When speaking of Yuxian county, Hebei province, which is about 200 kilometers to the west of Beijing, an enthusiast of Chinese fine art will probably first think of its famous traditional paper-cutting. In centuries past, those red creations portraying auspicious patterns showed the locals' love for life in an artistic way.

But people nowadays looking to refresh their knowledge about this folk art, by expanding their horizon to a much more distant past, may better understand human aesthetics and craftsmanship, thanks to recent archaeological findings, also steeped in red.

Around 40,000 years ago, people lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Nevertheless, in the area that is present-day Yuxian, someone with an eye for beauty might demonstrate craftsmanship by pounding colorful ocher chunks into powder, possibly to use as pigment with which to paint.

In the past few years, a research team, involving archaeologists and scientists from institutions in China, Germany, France and Spain, has concentrated on decoding unearthed findings from the Xiamabei site in Yuxian. The artifacts, which were excavated by the Hebei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology over 2013-14, are now believed to be evidence that indicates the earliest known ocher-processing workshop in not only China but also East Asia.

News of the discovery and its initial findings was released last week through an article published in Nature magazine.

"This colorful material can be used for symbolic purposes, such as decorating bodies, or for pragmatic uses," says Yang Shixia, a leading researcher in the program, who publicly briefed a conference of the National Cultural Heritage Administration in Beijing on March 3.

Ocher is a variety of a naturally forming clay pigment that was widely used in ancient artworks around the world, ranging from the brilliantly painted pottery of cultures that bloomed across what is present-day western and Central China around 5,000 years ago, to the murals of ancient Rome.

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The news conference of the 2022 China International Travel Mart, Kunming, Yunnan province. [Photo/Chinaculture.org]

The 2022 China International Travel Mart was launched in Kunming, Yunnan province today. The three-day event opened at the Kunming Dianchi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Centre, with a theme focusing on smart innovation and high-quality tourism industry aspects.

The news conference was held in the city on Thursday. Zhang Xilong, first class inspector of the Bureau of the International Communication and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China and Lou Kewei, deputy-director of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Yunnan province presented the meeting along with academy and entrepreneur representatives.

The conference introduced the preparations and relevant activities of the mart, such as a forum on smart tourism and innovation, a symposium on international travel communication and cooperation in the framework of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and a workshop on the China-Laos railway’s contribution to building an Asian community with a shared future.

According to the news meeting, the 2022 travel mart covers about 80,000 square meters, with about 4,200 standard booths. 71 countries and regions attended the event both online and offline, and 31 domestic provinces, cities and autonomous regions and 261 independent exhibition teams.

Online services will be provided to the overseas buyers and sellers in the light of time zones. They could also have a face-to-face negotiation at the mart as well.

The mart also has diverse displays to show culture and tourism, physical education and tourism, as well as overseas tourism and museums.

The National Cultural Heritage Administration, the Palace Museum and museums from other provinces will attend the travel mart.

At the event, Yunnan province will have 2,000 standard booths in four separate sections; each will show culture tourism, healthy lifestyles, physical education tourism and culture tourism consumption.

The travel mart will also stick to the rules of pandemic prevention and control while having the activities go on smoothly.

The news conference of the 2022 China International Travel Mart, Kunming, Yunnan province. [Photo/Chinaculture.org]
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