Feature: Meet China’s ancient crafts, modern tech

BEIJING, May 15 (Xinhua) — Colored clay toys, porcelains, and jade flower arrangements from ancient palaces, next to virtual reality (VR) devices and the 3D-printed sneaker soles and Buddha statues, are ready to dazzle participants at the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) with China’s past and future.

Slated for May 15 to 22, the conference will focus on cultural diversity, exchanges and mutual learning. It is expected to gather more than 2,000 government officials and representatives of various circles from 47 Asian countries, and countries outside the region.

Using 3D printing technology, Beijing-based Qingfeng technology company can produce a pair of sneaker soles in just an hour. Partnering with the leading Chinese sneaker brands such as Li-Ning and Anta, the company is confident of mass-production of the innovative sneakers by the end of this year.

With good elasticity and corrosion resistance, the 3D-printed shoes won’t be inferior to the sneakers made of any other material, the company said.

Unlike the cutting-edge 3D-printing technology, which relies on data models to finish crafts at high speeds, the traditional handcrafts, including jade flowers, may take hours of manual work.

The making of the jade flowers especially tests the patience and skills of technicians. They have to pick five petal-shaped jade pieces of the same color and then wrap the threads around a thin wire tightly as the flower’s branch, according to Dong Xuexia, an employee at the intangible cultural heritage interactive area.

Participants gather around tables to learn about crafts from the inheritors of these cultural heritages. Despite the precision and speed brought by modern technology, traditional crafts still appeal to them through engaging experiences.

As one of China’s intangible cultural heritages, Beijing colored porcelain has a century-long history and has been passed down to the fifth generation. The art’s museum receives visitors from home and abroad every day, and some foreigners even come four times a year. The jade flower arrangement is among the museum’s innovations, which aims to attract ordinary consumers.

“Porcelain is one of China’s cultural name-cards. As a unique handcraft skill of China, the art joins in communications with civilizations in the world, hoping to gain resonance,” said Shi Qin, the curator of the museum.

“As the successor of traditional crafts, we also seek innovation constantly. We believe that communication between different cultures can help us better innovate, which is the reason why we actively participate in CDAC.”

While showcasing China’s fast-growing high-tech sector, technological innovations displayed at the conference leave none of the country’s past behind.

With the 5G network and augmented reality (AR) technology, a “magic mirror” is all the participants need to color up the dusty Buddha figures on the computer screen. The famous thousand-hand goddess of mercy in the form of Tibetan thangka were also brought back to life via a handheld AR device.

Beijing’s largest early buddhist statues have long lost their original color due to their age, but now AR devices like the “magical mirror” can help restore their glory at museums. Likewise, incomplete cultural relics, for example the old Summer Palace and ruins of Yuanmingyuan Park, can be restored via virtual technology.

AR technology is also expected to be applied in education in the future, so that more students can vividly see cultural relics in the classroom, said an employee of China Unicom, one of the country’s main telecoms operators, which supports the 5G network at the experiencing area.

Some of the country’s traditional culture, including the 24 solar terms, the Chinese zodiac, and its world cultural and natural heritage sites, are also on display via the multimedia display. Participants can see the pictures of the sites by completing the jigsaw puzzles on an electronic screen.

Currently, China has 53 world heritage sites, ranking second in the world. China is also one of the countries with the most complete heritage sites in the world.

The photo area, where participants can take pictures with landmarks in Asian countries also attracted long queues. “The diversity of the Asian civilizations can be presented by the composite images of the participants and the sites in different forms of multimedia, combining the traditional physical photo exhibitions at the venues,” said Wang Lin, an employee at the VR experience area, where participants can see tourist attractions of major Chinese cities through VR devices.

“On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese and foreign attendees can both taste the country’s development and changes, especially the scenery of Beijing via VR technology,” Wang said.

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