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September 28, 2013

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Chongming festival helps tourists get back to nature

Cow body painting and cow racing are highlights of Chongming Island’s tourism festival, which also features an outdoor performance and root carving. Jiang Xinhua gets back to the county.

Humble, diligent and selfless, cows have always been important animals in Chinese agriculture development. The cow, as a zodiac, is one of the animals that lends its name to a 12-year cycle in the traditional Chinese culture, and the animal is the symbol of hardworking people without complaints.

Cows also star at the theme behind one of the biggest highlights of 2013 Chongming Forest Tourism Festival: The Cow Body Painting Festival runs from October 1-6 and features a parade, cow racing, a large-scale outdoor performance, farming experience, and a root-carving and wall painting exhibition in Niupeng Port, Xinhai Town.

“As the biggest agriculture county in Shanghai, Chongming Island has lots of love for cows. Located in northwest Chongming, Niupeng (cowshed) Port is named after a big cow farm in the town. So we choose it to be the venue holding this festival,” says Wang Yihua, producer of 2013 Niupeng Port Cow Body Painting Festival.

Cow body painting parade

This painting festival has attracted more than 300 people from around the world, including professional and amateur painters, who show their love of Chinese agricultural civilization, traditional culture and the local life on Chongming Island.

The Niupeng Port Cow Body Painting Festival organizing committee started in August to collect more than 300 pieces of painting with different themes and chose 18 pieces for the final parade show.

Then, local professional painters copy the selected paintings on clothes and some wooden cow models. Fifty cows selected from thousands of cows in Xinhai Town according to their shape and hair color will wear the painted clothes in a parade.

Zhong Yimeng, an amateur painter who was born at Yuejin Farm, very close to Niupeng Port, but moved out of Chongming at seven years old, says she misses her hometown very much and has witnessed huge changes on Chongming Island.

“So, I decided to draw the Changjiang Tunnel Bridge opening in 2009 and a traditional bridge in the village to show the big changes in Chongming Island. I chose very bright colors and big patterns to make an exaggerated effect for the stage show,” Zhong says.

“I missed the early childhood life of playing in the fields and feeling close to nature. However, with development, more and more kids are living in the concrete forest and cannot enjoy rural fun any more,” says Shi Yuhang, a nine-grade student at Dongmen Middle School.

“I want to use this painting to attract more children to visit Chongming and relax with the natural scenery and learn something new outside the class,” adds Shi. “So, I drew a painting about kids flying kites in the reed field in front of traditional tile-roofed houses in the daytime and counting bright stars at night with lots of glowworms around.”

Those who want to have a try can show his/her talent with the help of local professional painters and cow raisers on 10 cows that are well-trained and used to humans. You can also experience how to train cows and learn more about cows.

There will also be cow racing on a 100-meter track. The cows are ridden by local people who raise cows. Pick up your favorite cows and cheer for them!

Unique folk arts

Another feature of the Cow Body Painting Festival is an exhibition and art salon with many masters and fans of root carving and wall painting.

The root-carving exhibition features the works of Chen Qiheng, a famous root-carving artist. A native of Chongming, Chen went deep into mountains in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to collect roots. The 81-year-old former farmer devotes his life to turning tree roots into artistic creations.

In 1999, Chongming County government provided him a studio to help him continue his root carving creations, so he decided to bring all his work back to his hometown.

Chen’s root art, unlike others typically carved with delicate details, focuses on the natural grain of roots, keeping the original shape and melding natural nodes, textures, lumps and bumps with spare and simple cuts.

During the festival, Xinhai Town will also show visitors local wall painting craftsmanship at the Yingzhou Islet Wall Painting Institute.

Derived from zao hua (Ô), a centuries-old art form of painting clay ovens, wall painting is a special style of painting on concrete that makes the works more vivid and colorful.

The painting style is easy to learn and attracts more and art fans and local people. Most paintings are about local life, scenery and folk arts on Chongming Island.

Outdoor performance

Covering an area of 27,000 square meters, the outdoor performance “The Legend of Yingzhou Islet” tells the history of ancestors on Chongming Island from reclaiming the lands from the sea to developing farming and weaving.

The performance has three sections including drum dancing as the opening show, group dancing showing the weaving skills of Chongming handwoven cloth, shadow dancing and folk song.

The performance features real props including the rice field and forest as the background, a cowshed, fish pond, plows, weaving machines and wheelbarrows to show the authentic local life of Chongming Island. More than 160 performers including local people and police officers wearing a variety of costumes promise the audience a stunning audio and visual feast.


• Cow body painting

Date: October 1-6, 10am or 2pm

Venue: Niupeng Port

Tel: 5965-6225

• Outdoor performance

Date: October 3-4, 6:45-8:10pm

Venue: Niupeng Port

Tel: 5965-6225

• Root carving and wall painting

Date: October 1-6, 9:30am-11:30am, 1:30pm-3:30pm

Venue: Benniu Ground, Niupeng Port

Tel: 5965-6225



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