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Farmers find fame, make online footprint

Updated: 2023-09-20 08:08 ( CHINA DAILY )
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A video channel called "Shan Bai", features traditional Chinese handicrafts and rural life in China. CHINA DAILY

A video that showcases the techniques and production of Huizhou inksticks brought overnight fame to Shan Bai in July.

Inksticks are integral to Chinese painting and calligraphy. Huizhou inksticks are known as the finest of their kind.

As of Sept 19, the video had garnered nearly 10 million views on Douyin and received over 514,000 comments, making it the channel's most-watched video since it was created in April.

However, filming began long before the account's establishment. In fact, it took Xiang Qingbiao and Xiang Hongjun a year and a half to complete the video.

During this process, Xiang Hongjun faced a dangerous situation when he was bitten by a venomous snake. "When the video went viral online, I had been discharged from the hospital for just two days. When my family broke the news to me, I couldn't believe it. I thought they were making it up just to cheer me up," he chuckled. "I'm thrilled that all the efforts we put into the video have paid off."

In contrast to Xiang Hongjun's enthusiasm, Xiang Qingbiao has become more composed over time. "Farm work, crafting and filming keep us occupied most of the time. In fact, we don't have much time to focus on the data after the videos are released," he said, adding that his wife kept track of the data for him.

A video channel called "Shan Bai", features traditional Chinese handicrafts and rural life in China. CHINA DAILY

Despite attracting considerable online attention, the Huizhou inkstick video wasn't the most impressive achievement for the duo. They both mentioned another video about xiabu, a fabric made from woven vegetable fibers.

Xiabu is classified into different quality levels. After thorough research, the duo decided to tackle a relatively coarse variety, thinking it would be easier. However, they spent nearly half a month working tirelessly on it, encountering seven or eight failures during this period.

"It was by no means an easy task," reflected Xiang Qingbiao. "It's truly astounding how our ancestors produced such fine cloth with a basic wooden frame for weaving."

The process of making xiabu also left a deep impression on Xiang Hongjun, largely because each failure meant starting from scratch all over again. However, he displayed remarkable resilience. "Every time I failed, I would investigate the reasons," he noted. "When I couldn't pinpoint the cause, I would feel disheartened. But instead of giving up, I would make more attempts since I was certain that, with enough tries, success would be inevitable."

As for Xiang Qingbiao, he learns and recreates these ancient crafts through extensive research.

"I have been delving into ancient books like Tiangong Kaiwu (Heavenly Creations) and Qimin Yaoshu (Essential Techniques for the Welfare of the People), as well as related texts on specific intangible cultural heritage," he explained.

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