Pre­cious ar­ti­facts find new plat­form through TV

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS CAPSULE - By WANG KAIHAO wangkai­hao@chi­

Be­fore the first sea­son of the Na­tion’s Great­est Trea­sures (pre­vi­ously called Na­tional Trea­sure) was aired last De­cem­ber, not many would have be­lieved that cul­tural relics could cre­ate ex­cite­ment on a TV va­ri­ety show.

But the 10-episode show shown through China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion be­came a phe­nom­e­non.

It earned 9 points out of a to­tal of 10 on Douban, one of China’s ma­jor film and TV re­view web­sites.

CCTV’s sta­tis­tics show that it has at­tracted more than 2 bil­lion views on­line.

A to­tal of 27 cul­tural relics from nine key mu­se­ums na­tion­wide, which were rec­om­mended by the show, turned into star at­trac­tions. And the num­ber of vis­i­tors at the nine mu­se­ums dur­ing the Spring Fes­ti­val hol­i­day ear­lier this year in­creased by an av­er­age of 50 per­cent, com­pared with the same pe­riod in the pre­vi­ous year.

Mean­while, the good news for fans of the pro­gram is that sea­son two of the show will soon make its de­but.

The an­nounce­ment was made at a news con­fer­ence on Tues­day at the Palace Mu­seum in Bei­jing, one of the nine mu­se­ums that par­tic­i­pated in the in­au­gu­ral sea­son.

The pre­miere date has not been an­nounced but it is ex­pected to air by the end of this year.

Speak­ing about the pro­gram, Shan Jix­i­ang, di­rec­tor of the Palace Mu­seum, also known as the For­bid­den City, says: “Thanks to the show, cul­tural relics are no more just ob­jects that have to be ad­mired and have no rel­e­vance in our daily lives.

“Peo­ple now re­al­ize that these items not only have a bril­liant past but also a con­tem­po­rary sig­nif­i­cance. And un­der­stand­ing our tra­di­tional cul­ture will help us em­brace the fu­ture.”

In the first sea­son, three key ex­hibits from one mu­seum were se­lected for a 100minute episode. And the items were in­tro­duced by en­ter­tain­ment stars through short his­tor­i­cal dra­mas, while be­hind-the-scene sto­ries were later told by schol­ars and other ex­perts.

For view­ers who en­joyed the ac­tors’ emo­tional per­for­mances, aimed at show­cas­ing the leg­ends as­so­ci­ated with the cul­tural relics, there is more such drama in the up­com­ing sea­son.

Yu Lei, the di­rec­tor of the show, says that the un­ex­pected suc­cess of the first sea­son put more pres­sure on her.

“As mod­ern peo­ple’s tastes in en­ter­tain­ment change fast, we were (ini­tially) un­de­cided on whether to keep it (the in­au­gu­ral sea­son for­mat) as it was or adopt a new one.”

Fi­nally, her pro­duc­tion team chose to keep the ba­sic for­mat “un­changed”.

But Yu has in­tro­duced new au­di­ence know his songs well enough, Cheung of­fered his au­di­ence new ar­range­ments and adapted some of his per­for­mances into a type of mu­si­cal, an art form which has long been a fas­ci­na­tion of the singer.

In 1997, he was the art di­rec­tor of, and played the lead­ing role in, the ground­break­ing Can­tonese Broad­way­mu­si­cal, en­ti­tled

which was en­thu­si­as­ti­cally re­ceived by both au­di­ences and crit­ics. Af­ter more than 40 con­sec­u­tive full-house per­for­mances at the Hong Kong Coli­seum, he adapted the mu­si­cal and pre­miered a Man­darin ver­sion in Bei­jing in 2004.

“I love var­i­ous styles of per­for­mance, which is in my na­ture. Although I am ap­proach­ing 60, I still want to try some­thing new. It’s a way to sur­prise my­self and to be dif­fer­ent,” he says.

Start­ing his ca­reer af­ter win­ning a singing con­test in 1984, Cheung quickly be­came one of the big­gest Canto-pop stars, and is called “heav­enly king” by his lo­cal fol­low­ers.

In 1993, 4 mil­lion copies of Cheung’s al­bum, Kiss, were sold in Asia and, so far, he has nearly 70 al­bums un­der his belt, which have el­e­ments to the show.

For in­stance, she says that mu­si­cals and danc­ing will be used in the stage drama sec­tion.

“It’s bet­ter to use the ad­van­tage of the va­ri­ety show for­mat to show­case the beauty of these trea­sures.”

The new sea­son of Na­tion’s Great­est Trea­sures also has 27 cul­tural relics from nine cu­mu­la­tively sold more than 60 mil­lion copies world­wide.

His ca­reer hit a rough patch in 1988, when his Can­tonese al­bum, Dream in Grief, sold less than 10,000 copies and a year later, the singer started to act in films to make ends meet. How­ever, it wasn’t all that bad, win­ning two “best sup­port­ing ac­tor” awards — first at the 8th Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in As Tears Go By (1989) and later re­ceiv­ing the Golden Horse for his role in Swords­man in 1990.

Un­like in his younger days, which were gov­erned by tight sched­ules for record­ing and re­leas­ing al­bums and act­ing in movies, Cheung now con­cen­trates on his mu­sic per­for­mance and his fam­ily life.

He likes be­ing ex­pres­sive on stage and en­joys the lime­light, but af­ter that, he re­turns home and lives a sim­ple life, spend­ing time with his fam­ily and watch­ing TV dra­mas.

“We thank our fam­ily an­ces­tors for the good things that hap­pen, such as a suc­cess­ful ca­reer. I am lucky be­cause I love per­form­ing and I have a tal­ent for it,” says Cheung. “Peo­ple asked me, ‘What’s next af­ter you fin­ish the 15 shows in Hong Kong?’ Well, I still want to tour, and I still have new ideas. I think about singing on stage for­ever, but I guess it de­pends on the def­i­ni­tion of for­ever.”

Con­tact the writer at chen­nan@chi­ mu­se­ums, as in the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

And the Palace Mu­seum re­mains in the cast once more, but the eight provin­cial­mu­se­ums from the first sea­son have been re­placed.

The new­com­ers to the show are He­bei Mu­seum, Shanxi Mu­seum, Shan­dong Mu­seum, Guang­dong Muse- um, Sichuan Mu­seum,Yun­nan Provin­cial Mu­seum, Gansu Mu­seum and Xin­jiang Mu­seum.

As for the ar­ti­facts, Luo Xiangjun, the di­rec­tor of He­bei Mu­seum, says that its Changxin Palace Lamp, a bronze oil-lamp from the West­ern Han Dy­nasty (206 BC-AD 24), is part of the up­com­ing show. The lamp was used by the im­pe­rial fam­ily and rep­re­sents the high­est level of crafts­man­ship from that time.

Speak­ing about Shan­dong Mu­seum, Guo Sike, the deputy di­rec­tor, says that one ar­ti­fact re­lated to Con­fu­cius will be on the show.

The city of Qufu in Shan­dong is the home­town of the Chi­nese ed­u­ca­tor and philoso­pher.

Many ar­ti­facts in these mu­se­ums are well known.

For in­stance, an Eastern Han Dy­nasty (25-220) bronze sculp­ture de­pict­ing a gal­lop­ing sa­cred horse tread­ing on a fly­ing phoenix, which is often mis­tak­enly called Gal­lop­ing Horse Tread­ing on a Fly­ing Swal­low, is the sig­na­ture ar­ti­fact of Gansu Mu­seum. And its rep­re­sen­ta­tions are also used by China Tourism in its pro­mo­tion ma­te­rial.

As for the Guang­dong Mu­seum, it has many ar­ti­cles sal­vaged from an­cient ship­wrecks from the days of the Mar­itime Silk Road.

The Xin­jiang Mu­seum, on the other hand, is famed for its well-pre­served tapestries dat­ing back 2,000 years and 4,000-year-old mum­mies.

All these ar­ti­facts are con­nected to leg­ends and of­fer im­mense pos­si­bil­i­ties when it comes to a TV show, ac­cord­ing to the mu­seum ad­min­is­tra­tors.

“Mu­seum ad­min­is­tra­tors’ mind­sets have changed. We’re not only cus­to­di­ans of trea­sures, but ad­vo­cates for cul­ture. It’s our duty to bring our col­lec­tions to life through the me­dia,” says Shan.

Ac­cord­ing to Yu, CCTV is also work­ing with BBC World News for an in­ter­na­tional edi­tion of the show, which will be aired through the British broad­caster.


Above and above left: One of the best-sell­ing singers from Hong Kong, 57-year-old Jacky Cheung will con­clude his TheClas­sicTour in Jan­uary with 15 per­for­mances at the Hong Kong Coli­seum. Kick­ing off in Bei­jing in Oc­to­ber 2016, the tour has brought 191 shows world­wide so far.

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