“Prior to coming to Chengdu, the only thing about Chinese history I knew of was Confucian culture. It was only after arriving in Chengdu did I find out that Chinese culture has so much more to offer.” Gordon hails from the United Kingdom and is currently residing in Chengdu. Gordon mentioned that he is fascinated by the Jinsha Archaeological Site, where the myriad of relics reminded him of ancient western civilizations.
As Gordon so aptly put it, Chengdu is located in western China, and is an extra-large city with a population of 16 million and positioned as a “National Central City” by the state government in May 2016.
“National Central City” is the highest level of administrative classification for cities used in the national system, and those listed in this echelon are cities with the abilities to lead, influence and conglomerate, which can be manifested in a wide range of areas such as the economy, science and technology, cultural innovation, foreign communication and transportation.
The Jinsha Archaeological Site that Gordon mentioned is both the cradle of Chengdu’s history as a city and the most symbolic embodiment of the ancient Shu civilization as it sheds light upon the mysterious Shu society that thrived on the Chengdu Plain eons ago. The ancient Shu civilization dates back some 3,000 to 5,000 years and is regarded as one of the three main civilizations of ancient China along with those of Huaxia and Langzhu.
It can be said that the glorious ancient Shu civilization nurtured Chengdu, a renowned city of history and culture that has long been regarded as the “Land of Abundance” throughout Chinese history.
According to Chengdu municipal government, as a part of the first list of Famous Historical Cultural Cities published by the central government, Chengdu is home to five UNESCO World Heritage, renowned as Asia’s oldest settlement that has maintained its location unchanged, and esteemed for its inheritance of ancient Shu culture and Three Kingdoms culture. Thus, the city is well-endowed to become a famous cultural city of the world.
Using cultural creativity to instigate cultural inheritance and promotion has become a key mission for Chengdu, and the cultural creative industry is fast becoming the main engine behind the city’s drive toward the target of “National Central City”.
As one of Chengdu’s three main historical culture protection zones, Kuan and Zhai Alleys area is made up of the three parallel lanes of Kuan Alley (“wide alley”), Zhai Alley (“narrow alley”) and Jing Alley (“water wells alley”), along with the 45 traditional Chinese quadrangle courtyard residences sandwiched in between them.
The three rennovated old alleys and 45 courtyard residences were all injected with brand new cultural innovations based on the concept of “one street one style, one courtyard one flavor”. Of these, Kuan Alley focuses on introducing Sichuan tea, Sichuan opera and other businesses that are most emblematic of Chengdu folk heritage. Zhai Alley stresses on arts, leisure and designers workshops, while Jing Alley plays the role of representative of the “new life” of Chengdu locals, with innovation and fashion being the core themes.
At present, Kuan and Zhai Alleys area has received an accumulated total of 90 million domestic and international visitors. This has become one of Chengdu’s most important destinations for tourists from both home and abroad.
According to statistics, Kuan and Zhai Alleys area now plays host to over 150 enterprises, of which those in the cultural creative industry accounts for 1/5.
Cultural creativity is currently instilling Chengdu with a brand new type of radiating energy and vitality.
On November 25, 2016, the annual Chengdu Creativity and Design Week commenced. On the first day of the activity, confirmed contractual value for cross-industry innovative projects like creativity village and stage performances totaled more than RMB 2 billion.
The Chengdu Creativity and Design Week is an activity designed to promote upscale service sectors, with the focus placed on culture and innovation, and is intended to stimulate the development of cultural innovation in Chengdu. This campaign has been held for three consecutive years already.
Unmanned aerial vehicles weighing a mere 50g, robots apt in Chinese calligraphy…over 20,000 unique items and exhibits invented by 650 creative and design companies from home and abroad took the 2016 Chengdu Creativity and Design Week by storm.
With just a single Design Week, Chengdu has already showcased its unique charm as western China’s cultural creativity center.
Just like Jinli, Kuan and Zhai Alleys and other cultural creativity projects cultivated in recent years, the “Chengdu International Music and Poetry Festival 2016” that concluded on a high note in November last year is considered a prolific distillation of the thousands of years of historical profundity of this city. It also awakened and fortified in Chengdu citizens the cultural self-awareness and cultural confidence for their city.
Appreciation of music and enjoyment of culture have become the new consumption trends in Chengdu, and amid this atmosphere rich in poetry and music, the citizens of Chengdu have sensed the confidence exuded and capabilities shown by their city as its climbs in prominence as a cultural creativity center of western China.
In terms of picking up the speed of establishing a cultural creativity center of western China and a famous cultural city of the world, Chengdu has formulated the following specific action plan. No doubt in the near future, Chengdu’s cultural creative capacity will present to the world an even more mesmerizing famous cultural city.
Gordon’s family and relatives are still in the United Kingdom, and he hopes that they can visit Chengdu soon. “I believe that they will fall in love with this city and its culture.”