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Xinhua Headlines: Fine traditional Chinese culture emerges as new fad

* Henan Province is rich in cultural resources, with many ancient dynasties having established their capitals here. It is home to sites of great historical interest including the Shaolin Temple and the Longmen Grottoes.

* The number of museums in Henan has increased from 180 in 2012 to 384 in 2022. A total of 278 million visits have been made over the past five years.

* "Young people now boast an elevated sense of national pride and a deeper love for fine traditional culture," said Ma Xiaolin, head of the Henan Museum.

ZHENGZHOU, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- As the morning sun spreads across Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, visitors begin touring around a new theatrical theme park here, a journey that takes them back thousands of years into the province's rich history.

Welcome to "Unique Henan: Land of Dramas," a gigantic immersive theater complex located on the city's outskirts and covering more than 40 hectares. The site comprises 21 theaters with close to 1,000 actors, performing various shows themed on the history of Henan and the culture of the Yellow River, a "mother river" of the Chinese nation.

Aerial photo taken on May 13, 2021 shows a view of the "Unique Henan: Land of Dramas," a gigantic immersive theater complex, in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Li An)

Since it opened last year, the attraction has become a smash hit. "I think what I have seen is not so much a drama, but the rich history of Henan. This is a place that deserves many visits," said a tourist named Wang Lin.

Henan is rich in cultural resources, with many ancient dynasties having established their capitals here. It is home to sites of great historical interest including the Shaolin Temple and the Longmen Grottoes. The popularity of fine traditional culture shows its increasing charm in the minds of Chinese people.

UNIQUE CHARM

Melody of "The Lonely Warrior," a modern popular song, reverberates through an international convention center in Zhengzhou. It is produced by nine ancient musical instruments, an innovation of the Huaxia Ancient Music Ensemble under the Henan Museum.

Since its establishment in 2000, the ensemble has restored and produced replicas of more than 300 musical artifacts, including a 5,000-year-old pottery clay flute named taoxun, some 3,000-year-old bronze bells, and an ancient plucked string instrument known as a konghou.

The team has compiled and created over 100 pieces of music based on ancient musical scores and literature. It has also tried livestreaming performances on social media platforms to attract more audiences.

Members of the Huaxia Ancient Music Ensemble under the Henan Museum perform at the Zhengzhou international convention center in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan Province, Sept. 1, 2022. (Xinhua/Li An)

"Cultural relics are the witnesses of history," said Ma Xiaolin, head of the Henan Museum. "We want to bring relics back to life, so that visitors can listen to the sounds of the past."

Advanced technologies, such as 3D reconstruction and augmented reality (AR), have been widely used to promote fine traditional culture. Last year, at Henan's Spring Festival gala, a dance performance called "Night Banquet in Tang Dynasty Palace" brought pottery figurines from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) back to life. It quickly went viral online.

Using 3D and AR technologies, the show combined virtual scenes with a real stage, bringing dancing to a museum setting. It was viewed over 2 billion times on various online platforms in 2021. The microblogging site Sina Weibo was buzzing with comments on the dance, with related topics generating 490 million views.

"There is a misunderstanding that young people have lost interest in traditional Chinese culture," said Chen Yunjie, a college student who is a die-hard fan of the dance performance, adding that young people will be attracted by traditional elements if they are properly displayed.

In this combo photo, the upper part taken on Feb. 20, 2021 shows performers of "Night Banquet in Tang Dynasty Palace" during a video recording at the Henan Museum in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan Province; the lower part taken on Sept. 24, 2020 shows pottery figurines displayed at the central pavilion of the Henan Museum. (Xinhua/Li An)

NEW FADS

The Henan Museum has been working on integrating creative ideas into cultural relic promotion. The sales of its blind boxes of "archaeological finds" exceeded 40 million yuan (about 5.8 million U.S. dollars) since they were launched in late 2020.

"We combined the popular concept of blind boxes with cultural relics to allow people to experience the joy of physically digging replicas of relics encased in dirt," said Song Hua, director of the museum's cultural and creative office.

Combo photo taken on May 17, 2022 shows the process of a mimic excavation of "archaeological finds" hidden in a blind box at the Henan Museum in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Li An)

As more museums become cultural hubs, where creativity combines with knowledge, taking a tour of them has become all the more popular in Henan in recent years.

The number of museums in the province has increased from 180 in 2012 to 384 in 2022. A total of 278 million visits have been made over the past five years.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), Henan plans to invest 40 million yuan annually to promote the digital transformation of cultural tourism and cultivate immersive digital venues.

With the growing popularity of traditional clothing, historical and cultural audio-visual programs, and archaeology as a study option in higher education, there is clearly stronger demand for fine traditional culture in today's world, said Ma. "Young people now boast an elevated sense of national pride and a deeper love for fine traditional culture." ■

(Reporting by Cheng Lu, Shi Linjing and Gui Juan; Video reporters: Ren Zhuoru and Yuan Yueming; Video editors: Zhang Yucheng, Liu Yutian and Li Qin.)