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Shanxi culture in full swing, potions 'n' all

A SHOW depicting the long history of Shanxi folk culture is a feature of the province's culture week that started yesterday on Baosteel Stage at the Pudong Expo site.

Professionals will demonstrate through to Sunday how Shanxi Mature Vinegar and the Chinese patented herbal pills "Liu Wei Di Huang Wan" (a genus of six species of flowering plants) are produced.

Visitors can also taste the vinegar that is reputed to reduce blood pressure and blood fats and try a pill reputed to help strengthen the kidneys and spleen.

Pharmacist Yang Jiguang, 55, has made the traditional pills for 30 years. His early methods involved placing the cooked herbs into a wooden mold and printing out dozen of tablets branded "Liu Wei Di Huang Wan" that are as large as Chinese dates.

"Visitors are welcome to eat these pills which are good for their health," Yang said.

People are introduced to the strong sour vinegar smells as they walk closer to the booth where staff open a large jar and dole out sample spoonfuls of a brew that is more than a year old.

The genesis of Shanxi Vinegar goes back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when it was developed for the sons of Zhu Yuanzhang, the dynasty's founding emperor.

Other shows include pulling dough into strips for noodles. Chef Wang Zhanglong, 28, has practiced the skill for more than 10 years and will demonstrate - at 10am, 2pm and 7pm every day - pulling dough into tens of thousands of noodles that are thinner than hair.

A highlight is a 30-meter-long puppetry exhibition with more than 300 spring-loaded figures that can move automatically.

"It was a traditional skill developed during China's Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) and few modern techniques are involved to make the figures move," said Gao Fuxi, designer of the exhibition.

Many stories and tourism models in the exhibition also aim to introduce the province's many cultural attractions.


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