Related News

Home » Metro

Traditional skills in danger

SOME traditional skills of various ethnic minorities face extinction in Guizhou Province due to lack of demand and too few young people interested in learning the crafts, masters of the skills said yesterday at the World Expo.

As Guizhou Cultural Week began yesterday, visitors were given the chance to see a masked drama, ancient paper making, as well as the making of intricate silvery jewelry at Baosteel Stage.

Artists from the Tujia ethnic group will perform the Nuo Xi masked drama daily at noon, 1pm and 4pm on the stage through Thursday. The masks represent various gods and the dancers pray for health and peace.

Wang Guoping, 45, made has made wooden masks and performed the drama for more than 30 years. His ancestors made a living doing this by performing in homes in Dejiang County, where the drama originated.

"It has become a special culture and tradition rather than a superstition, like in the old days, so it should be saved," he said.

Wang's ancestors would be invited to perform the drama when anyone fell sick in the village as people believed the god in the drama could cure them.

He said now he only performs the masked drama during the Chinese lunar New Year holidays and does not really need to make any new masks.

Miao minority handicraftsmen, who are known for making fine silver jewelry, are also at the Expo to show how they make both the jewelry and their traditional clothes.

Yang Guangbing said he can make the world's most delicate silver products, as thin as a piece of hair, but that few people are willing to buy the items due to the expense.

He now trains apprentices to make the traditional jewelry pieces worn by Miao women.

Another Miao family was showing how paper was made in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Wang Pengnian, 20, said he is in the 20th generation of successors to make paper in the ancient style in his hometown in Danzhai County.

But he said the process is complicated and that there is no future market for the skill since only museums buy this paper to repair old books.

"The production rate is low for ancient paper making and the quality is no better, so it will be eliminated in modern times sooner or later," Wang said.

He said he wants to get a job in the information technology sector after graduation.

While visitors admired the skills of these craftsmen, the masters said they were worried that each tradition could be lost after they died.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend