Chinese vloggers promote traditional culture around the world by innovating on inheritance
Young voices
Published: Sep 21, 2022 08:37 PM
A woman dressed in traditional Chinese <em>Hanfu</em> Photos: VCG Traditional Chinese clothing

A woman dressed in traditional Chinese Hanfu Photo: VCG A woman dressed in traditional Chinese <em>Hanfu</em> Photos: VCG Traditional Chinese clothing

Traditional Chinese clothing Photo: VCG

Hundreds of young content creators who are fond of traditional culture and Chinese fashion are set to gather together in East China's Jiangsu Province during the upcoming National Day holidays for a grand cultural event, where they will wear exquisite traditional clothing and enjoy performances of ancient art forms such as Chinese opera.

At Guofeng Dadian 2022 (Grand ceremony of Chinese style), these young creatives will bring participants back to ancient dynasties so visitors can experience the life of their ancestors through activities such as strolling through fairs and enjoying tea with friends.

They will also take to the catwalk to display traditional clothing, play Chinese musical instruments at concerts and show off the intangible cultural heritage skills they have inherited from past generations.

These content creators are the epitome of the huge number of young people in China who are addicted to tradition and eagerly produce works such as videos about ancient China's charm to share their enthusiasm with domestic and overseas audiences.

Some top vloggers in their 20s, such as Zhu Tiexiong and Chu Qi, have gained millions of followers on social media both at home and abroad. 

Chu noted that Chinese style does not just refer to Hanfu (Chinese traditional clothing), but also includes other items such as traditional handicrafts, dances and music. Additionally, as more young people gain an interest in traditional culture, more niche but attractive facets of culture, such as handicrafts, have a chance to enter the limelight and become known to a wider audience, which in turn can strengthen the country's national cultural confidence.

"Currently, the trend of returning to tradition is intensifying among Chinese young people as the younger generations' confidence in Chinese culture has been on the rise," Zhang Yiwu, a Peking University professor, told the Global Times.

Diverse charm

Besides Zhu and Chu who will attend the huge gathering, many other vloggers focused on a diverse range of traditional fields get huge support.

Yang Liu, a 25-year-old vlogger on video sharing site Bilibili, grew up learning duzhupiao, or "bamboo-drifting." Involving navigating dangerous waterways while standing on a bamboo raft, the skill originated along the Chishui River in Southwest China's Guizhou Province centuries ago.

Yang posted her first short video on social media in 2018. In the video, Yang, dressed in Hanfu, dances on a bamboo raft that is only 15 centimeters wide and 8 meters long while drifting on the water. The video, showing the young woman's control and balance, amazed many viewers and went on to earn more than 1 million views.

Since then, Yang has been sharing her short videos of herself drifting on bamboo raft online. This has won her a large fan base abroad, with followers calling her a "kung fu master on water" or "dancing fairy on water."

Going by the stage name Marsix, musician Liu Jialiang has won himself more than 70,000 followers online with his "pipa fusion" music videos. 

Growing up learning the traditional lute-like pipa but also intrigued by Western music genres such as jazz, Liu aims to show people how this 2,000-year-old instrument has huge potential to be "modern" and "comprehensive." 

"Listening to his pipa songs makes me feel like a Tang Dynasty court lady who jams with musicians in Paris or New York," commented one netizen on Bilibili.      

Due to the international nature that Marsix has brought to his pipa fusions, his music has encouraged a lot of young fans to try merging Chinese traditions with world music. 

"I have started to use my zhongruan [another Chinese plucked musical instrument] to compose some Chinese pop songs by Jay Chou," Xie Keqing, a fan inspired by Marsix's music, told the Global Times. 

Not only gaining fans in China, Marsix has also been called "culturally creative" overseas. 

"A Chinese friend introduced him to me, saying he is like the legendary FKJ [a French musician]. As an artist who has lived in Paris for half my life, I think he is even more unique and culturally creative," Luyi, a Chinese music composer, told the Global Times.

Overseas expansion

Chinese traditional culture vloggers have also noticed that they are gaining more attention from overseas platforms.

With the logo written on her introduction page on YouTube reading "Of the nation, of the world" in Chinese, 25-year-old guzheng (Chinese plucked zither) player Peng Jingxuan not only earned a master's degree in France, but also dreams of bringing the music of China to the world. 

Her videos, in which she usually wears a red Chinese dress and sits in front of a guzheng in the open air of a French street, have an average of 5 million views.

As the bouncing notes of famous songs ranging from "Shanghai Bund" to the traditional "Jasmine Flower" drift down the street, numerous passersby find themselves unable to do anything but stop and listen.

Since she first began studying at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux in 2017, every weekend Peng puts on her Hanfu and plays the guzheng on the streets of France, leaving her footprints at the gate of the Grand Theatre of Bordeaux, the banks of the Seine and the well-known Eiffel Tower.