Tourist town gets major boost with global event
The wind blows away the clouds in a small city in Dunhuang in Northwest China’s Gansu province, but it can’t douse the passion of visitors swarming into three giant-tower-like buildings looking over rows of dunes, where the first SilkRoad Dunhuang International Cultural Expo— the biggest cultural feast in this tourist city of less than 200,000 residents — is being held.
Long lines can be seen outside the entrance to the international exhibition space.
More than 60 countries and regions connected with the ancient Silk Road are presenting their art and cultural shows in the western wing of the three-tower complex, abou the size of an airport.
Sun Xiaonan, along with her 5-year-old son, is there to visit the expo for the second time on Sunday.
They spend a lot of time at the French exhibit taking photos of a miniature Eiffel Tower, examining a Citroen car that was used for an expedition spanning 120,000 kilometers from France to China in 1931, and admiring the antiques and oil paintings brought in from museums in France.
The mother, a local resident whospent 50 yuan for her ticket, says: “My friends and colleagues have all come to visit the expo with their families. It’s very fresh and new for me — to understand the culture outside China.”
She adds many of the visitors have also flown in from other cities in Gansu province to visit the expo.
TheFrench pavilion is divided into four parts and covers art, culture, architecture and history.
Many visitors are attracted by a series of block paintings showing Chinese people as imagined by French artists planting mulberries, raising silkworms and weaving cloth.
The block paintings are from the Textile Museum and the Decorative and ArtsMuseum in Lyon, a place known for its silk industry since the 17th century.
Lyon has long been a key city in the transport of silk products from Asia, especially China to European cities.
“Some areas in Lyon have a close bond withChina because of the silk industry. There is a silk road between Lyon and Dunhuang,” says Yan Dong, deputy general manager of the China Arts & Entertainment Group, which helped organize the event.
Yan says French artists in the 18th century often used Chinese elements like pagodas, bridges, temples, landscapes and mountains in their works.
So, he says, it is not uncommon to see Chinese style works by French artists.
Meanwhile, among the other items on display at the French pavilion are 34 antique silk items from the Textile Museum in Lyon, portraits of French royalty, royal antique furniture and exquisite clocks and vases, which give you a glimpse of daily life of the French elite in those days.
With regard to the offerings from other countries, there are contemporary art from Italy, oil paintings featuring Silk Road landscapes by Russian artists and art from Egypt.
This is the first time that the tourist city known for its Mogao Grottoes holding such a big cultural event.
The expo is also the first for Gansu province, but it will not be the last as the event is slated to be an annual one from now on, says ZhangYu, president of the China Arts & Entertainment Group.
The expo will run until Oct 10.
Left: The Citroen car on show was once used for an expedition spanning 120,000 kilometers from France to China in 1931. Right: A block painting from the Textile Museum and the Decorative and Arts Museum in Lyon features a woman dressed in Chinese costume preparing thread.