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May 1, 2010

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8,000 years of history in a bowl

The picturesque West Lake, Longjing tea, mountain landscapes and delicate smooth silk will be displayed vividly in a huge celadon bowl brimming with water in the Zhejiang Province Pavilion at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai.

From the Hemudu Culture in the New Stone Age and the granary of the ancient China during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to today's high-speed modern achievements, Zhejiang's more than 8,000 years of history is condensed in the pavilion for visitors to have a quick glimpse of this enchanting place bordering on Shanghai.

Covering an area of 600 square meters, the pavilion, with the theme "Urban and Rural Happy Life, Poetic and Picturesque Home," is wrapped in glittering green bamboo and LED metal material, which can make the bamboo flash different colors.

"To adopt bamboo as the pavilion's outside wall is because the plant is the symbol of Zhejiang's spirit, that is uprightness and grace," says Yang Qirui, general designer of the Zhejiang Pavilion from China Academy of Fine Arts.

Venturing into the front exhibition hall, one feels like stepping into an ancient watertown. The exhibition hall is decorated as a small corner of a typical quiet little town in the province, traversed by an old street paved with cobble stones and flanked by shops and stalls whose painted signboards are peeling.

A stream meanders down from a mini kiosk.

"The water is the 'history river,' an epitome of the 8,000 years of history of Zhejiang," Yang says. "Water is the biggest feature of the pavilion because Zhejiang is bred by thousands of rivers, canals, lakes, streams and sea."

On the right side is a huge wall screen, 8 meters high and 3 meters wide, displaying a three-minute film about Zhejiang's culture, history and development in modern times, including the ancient love story of Lady White Snake, the busy yet happy life of fishing girls living by the sea and the diligent farmers working in the paddy fields.

But the biggest highlight of Zhejiang Pavilion is a giant celadon bowl -- 8 meters in diameter on the second floor.

Built in the middle of the central exhibition hall, the huge china bowl is the center of a virtual reality exhibit, making a beautiful sound as water flows into it.

A 10-minute film recalls Zhejiang's history, culture and economy as well as people's happy life. Hangzhou's summertime flower, water lily, blooms in a computerized performance, turning the bowl into a lake with rippling water, and then its leaves expand and change into Longjing tea leaves, turning the bowl into a big porcelain teacup.

Visitors will also marvel at other innovations. The Hangzhou Bay Bridge that links the province and Shanghai will magically rise from under the water and the china bowl suddenly becomes the massive East China Sea.

"A bowl is to be filled with rice, while a city or a province is to be populated by people. We see the connection between them and that's how we got the inspiration. In addition, the bowl is also a symbol of Chinese culture because dining is a key part of we Chinese," the designer Yang says.

"It also can be interpreted that the fertility of the land and mountains of Zhejiang have nurtured the province's long history and profound culture," he says.

Visitors to the Zhejiang Pavilion will have a chance to sip the famous Longjing tea and get a small porcelain bowl, as well as a bottle of water from Zhejiang for brewing tea.

"We want to show visitors in this confined space as much as possible Zhejiang's beautiful landscapes, long history, splendid culture and economic developments accomplished in modern times," the designer says.

As one of the closest neighbors of Shanghai, Zhejiang Province is striving to brand itself to visitors at home and abroad during the World Expo. It is going to launch a series of activities during this 184-day global gala.


a coastal province in China's southeast, is located in the southern wing of the Yangtze River Delta region. It borders Shanghai and Jiangsu Province to the north, Anhui Province to the northwest, Jiangxi Province to the west, and Fujian Province to the south. It also borders the East China Sea to the east.

Qiantang River is the biggest river in the province, and Zhejiang was the old name of the river. Its capital city is Hangzhou, famed for the West Lake, Longjing (Dragon Well) tea and superb silk.

With a population of 51.80 million and an area of 101,800 square kilometers, Zhejiang is one of the smallest provinces in the country, yet its fast-paced economic development ranks among the best in China. It is known as the cradle of the country's private economy with small- and medium-sized enterprises thriving.


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