Tu’er Ye, Beijing's icon, boosts friendship between countries
Zhang Zhongqiang, the fifth generation of Beijing painted clay sculpture craft, standing in front of his Tu'er Ye souvenir shop located in Liulichang Street in Downtown Beijing. [Photo: from China Plus]
The mid-autumn festival is an important holiday in China as it's a time when families can enjoy family time, either watching TV specials or going out into their courtyards to admire the moon. One recognized custom that marks this special occasion is to have mooncakes. Traditionally, children in Beijing would have a ceremony where they worshiped a clay sculpture with a rabbit-shaped face and human body. It's called Tu'er Ye, and is an incarnation of the Chinese mythological Moon Rabbit.
Tu'er Ye clay sculpture displayed in Zhang's shop. [Photo: from China Plus]
Tu'er Ye clay sculpture is a cultural symbol of Beijing and is inscribed on the China's Intangible Heritage in 2014. It can be traced back to the late Ming Dynasty, about four hundred years ago. Unfortunately, as time has passed, younger generations in the country have gradually forgotten this tradition, and simply see the sculpture as an ornament.
Visitors from many countries, such as Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Britain, Columbia, France, Vietnam and South Korea left notes there when they were visiting the shop to express their adoration to Tu'er Ye clay sculpture, and Zhang's students sent him letters to thank him for the wonderful class he provided. [Photo: from China Plus]
Zhang Zhongqiang is a local Beijinger and the fifth generation of this clay sculpture craft. He has seen how the art has developed, and says that nowadays, Tu'er Ye is about to be transformed as some important cultural elements need to be changed to meet the demands of today's customers.
In Zhang's 40-year-long vocation, he has been making efforts to introduce Tu'er Ye and the story behind it to larger audiences domestically and in the wider world.
So how is he going to deal with today's circumstances? Please click the audio above to find out more.
(Written by Chen Ziqi, narrated by Yang Yong)