Sichuan boasts gorgeous and abundant intangible cultural heritage resources. These resources are not only the root of the life and memory of the Sichuan people as well as the origin of Ba-Shu culture but also an essential part of the “Chinese memory.” Characterized by flowing deformation and oral teaching, the intangible cultural heritage embodies the unique inner world and spiritual activities of the Sichuan people, who are romantic, imaginative, and innovative. Sichuan craftsmanship is“ home grown ”and has a long history. Four well-known Sichuan handicrafts, including silver, lacquer, embroidery, and bamboo, together with the elegant and sophisticated Sichuan porcelain series and the peculiarly shaped Sichuan root carvings, have received worldwide attention.
The art of silver filigree has a history of more than 2,000 years. It consists of intertwining silver filaments of different thickness, fineness, light, and pattern to make various elegant and exquisite jewelry, ornaments, accessories, and household items. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, silver jewelry was popular among the people, and silver workshops were booming as a folk occupation. Craftsmen created silver filigree freely at will but with delicate details, which contributed to its distinctive regional characteristics.
The silver filigree products displayed in the Sichuan Hall of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and the Treasure Hall of the China Arts and Crafts Museum have won many gold and silver awards of the China Arts and Crafts and have also been the key highlight of the collections of the Sichuan Exhibition Hall at Shanghai World Expo. Nowadays, there are more than 400 varieties of Sichuan’s silver filigree handicrafts, such as the ring, bracelet, headdress flower, pendant, plate, screen, box, flower perfumer, and vase, which are popular as wearable and decorative items.
Yang Xiong, a literary scholar of the Western Han Dynasty, said in his “Ode for Sichuan” that “carved and hollowed lacquerware is made with various techniques and craftsmanship. “Since ancient times, Sichuan has been one of the major places of origin of lacquerware in China, and Chengdu is hailed as the “City of Chinese Lacquer Art.” Chengdu lacquerware is among the top 4 lacquerwares in China for its exquisite patterns, fine luster, and gorgeous colors, with a unique Han style and local color.
Lacquerware craftsmanship reached a high level as early as the ancient Shu period of more than 3,000 years ago. During the Warring States period, Chengdu lacquerwares spread nationwide as cultural and trade items. From the available archaeological data, we can get a glimpse of the excellent craftsmanship of ancient Shu lacquerware and its glory of the time. On May 20, 2006, Chengdu lacquer art was listed as one of the national intangible cultural heritage by the State Council.
כבר לפני 3000 שנה במהלך תקופה בני השוּ אומנות כלי הלכה כבר הייתה מפותחת מאוד. במהלך תקופת המדינות הלוחמות היו כלי לכה מוצר נפוץ כלים בסחר חליפין וכך נפוצו לעבר חלקים רבים בסין. על פי תיעודים ומוצגים ארכיאולוגיים שנשתמרו אנחנו יכולים לקבל הצצה לעושר ולמגוון המיוחד של כלי הלכה בתקופה עתיקה זו. בעשרים למאי 2006 המועצה הלאומית של סין בחרה להכניס את אומנות כלי הלכה של סצ’ואן לרשימת המורשת הבלתי המוחשית שיש לשמר.
As early as the Han Dynasty, Shu embroidery was already famous all over the world. As one of the four famous embroideries in China, it was listed as one of the intangible cultural heritages in China in 2006. The prosperous silk weaving industry in the ancient Shu region of Western Sichuan and its unique natural environment and rich natural resources provided a strong material basis for Shu embroidery development.
Shu embroidery is made of soft satin and colored silk, and the embroidery techniques are unique, with at least 100 kinds of delicate stitching techniques. Embroidery, first being a pastime during girls’ childhood, became distinguished craftsmanship passed down over generations.
Nowadays, with the development of the internet, most Shu embroidery craftsmen have set up master workshops. Their production and marketing models have adapted to the needs of the market and production. Due to the influence of the changing consumer culture, coupled with its national characteristics and cultural value, Shu embroidery has been developing in favor of decoration and symbolization. Shu embroidery has become artwork for appreciation and collection, and its deep national characteristics have made it one of the most important cultural symbols of the Ba-Shu area.
Being the raw material for many traditional techniques, bamboo has captivated many artists throughout history. Bamboo weaving is more of an art than a technique. There are countless bamboo weaving techniques in Sichuan, including the Qingshen bamboo weaving, Liu’s bamboo weaving in Quxian County, porcelain-bodied bamboo ware, Daoming bamboo weaving, mottled bamboo weaving, and so on, all of which are inherited from traditional Sichuan craftsmanship.
The sophisticated and unique attainments in arts and crafts of Sichuan people have been showcased through the splendid Shu embroidery, profound lacquerware, exquisite silver filigree, varied bamboo weaving, refined Sichuan porcelain, and magical root carving. These arts and crafts have been integrated into Sichuan’s ethnic culture, folklore, and customs as treasures of which the Sichuan people are proud.
All walks of life in Sichuan are exploring ways in which the intangible cultural heritage can be inherited to activate the creative vitality and awakening the memory of the Chinese nation. Intangible cultural heritage, fostering imagination, cultural awareness, and national spirit, is the “dynamic soul” of human beings and the key to understanding national culture. Through its constant promotion of the integration of intangible cultural heritage into contemporary life, Sichuan has strengthened the integration of culture and tourism and achieved fruitful results in allowing its eximious traditional culture to take root and be passed on to the younger generations!