Tourist town gets ma­jor boost with global event

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By DENG ZHANGYU in Dun­huang, Gansu prov­ince

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.

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