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A Tour to Beijing's Bai Gong Fang to Experience the Traditional Chinese Culture

At the outset of the Year of Rabbit in the Chinese lunar calendar, everything takes on a new look. On February 11, 2011, in celebration of the new spring, the Beijing-based foreign journalists and their families from Spain, Finland, Japan, Turkey, India, Iran and some other countries, at the invitation of the International Press Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Affairs Office of Beijing Municipal Government, made a tour to Bai Gong Fang (Chinese Traditional Handicraft Workshop), where they experienced the strong festive charm of China and the unique fascination of Chinese traditional handicrafts.

The head of Bai Gong Fang extended a warm welcome to the journalists and their families and made a brief introduction to the workshop. Then the journalists watched videos and learned that the word "Bai Gong" (hundreds of kinds of handicrafts) was originated from Kao Gong Ji (the Artificers' Record), the official record of the State of Qi during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. Starting from Yuan Dynasty to Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, specialized agencies were set up to make artwares and craftworks for imperial families. In different dynasties, the agencies had different names. It was called Gongbu (Ministry of Works) in Yuan Dynasty, Shaofujian (Directorate for the Palace Buildings) in Ming Dynasty; the Palace Workshops under the Imperial Household Department in Qing Dynasty, which was nicknamed Bai Gong Fang by the people. Bai Gong Fang has no equals in the capital. Since it was open to the public at the end of 2003, it has received tens of thousands of foreign tourists from all walks of life and has become the production, research and development base to inherit, protect and enhance the traditional arts and crafts.

Bai Gong Fang has not only enabled the journalists and their families to experience the profound Chinese traditional arts and crafts, but also provided journalists a rare opportunity to personally experience what a "craftsman" is like. Under the instructions of the masters, they personally made Chinese knot bracelets with strong Chinese flavor and painted facial makeup onto the Peking Opera masks. For those who had the first feel of the folk arts and crafts, making things is really a difficult job. But color ink over their hands and twisted knot of red string had not affected their enthusiasm to "study skills" from the masters, who were busy running between the journalists and earnestly teaching students in need of help. In the end, each of them made the original Chinese knot bracelets and painted the Peking Opera masks. With their bracelets around their hands and the masks over their faces, they appreciated each other and their own works with laughter and joy.


Then they visited over 30 handicraft studios including the Glass Studio, Inside-Bottle Painting Studio, Carved Lacquer Studio, Pearl Studio, Clay Studio, and Cloisonne Studio. They cannot stop praising the exquisite workmanship of the handiworks. Surrounding the masters, they kept raising questions. They saw that each studio has a unique attraction and charm. Even A small piece of work will take the craftsman several months or some weeks to complete. One could imagine the complexity of the techniques and processes involved in making a work.


The journalists also had the opportunity to see the Eight Unique Skills of Yanjing: Ivory Carving, Jade Carving, Beijing Cloisonne, Inlaid Gold Lacquer, Palace Carpets, Beijing Embroidery, Filigree Inlay Art and Lacquer Carving. The unique inside-bottle painting works, the lively and vivid copper art products, and the distinct artistic gourds impressed them deeply. They exclaimed at the charm of the traditional Chinese folk arts and crafts.


Foreign journalists expressed their gratitude to the organizer for organizing the event, saying that the charm of Chinese folk handicrafts, handmade bracelets and facial painting, left them a beautiful memory of China.

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