Zhouzhuang has launched a series of events in 2015starting with the windmill season to present a cultural heritage tour for visitors to enjoy traditional arts and crafts. The windmill season returned to the historic water town together with the 20th China Zhouzhuang International Tourism Festival on May 20th.
From now to the end of June, exhibitions, performances and parties with the theme of windmill will be hosted in the town. The windmills are presented as various forms of pinwheels that spin with a gentle blow of air. By decorating the whole town with colorful pinwheels, Zhouzhuang preserves the profound heritage, recalling the memories that visitors enjoyed in their childhood.
Windmills appeared 2,000 years ago in Asia and Europe with the practical function of converting the wind to power grain mills and water pumps. The windmill also brings a memory of childhood to many. While in traditional Chinese culture, spinning wheels represent rolling in the good fortune and a continuously steady flow of life as an emotional reflection.
Pinwheels serve as not only an event symbol but also a witness of the town’s windmill history, Zhouzhuang has saved more than its cobble stone streets and carvedbrick gates. The ideal escape destination from the urban jungle keeps the folk art and traditional cultures that were passed on from one generation to another.
The Zhouzhuang Twelve Square has 12 studios and workshops that still keep the ancient arts and crafts including wine brewing, bamboo carving and tofu making. They also are restoring the traditional lifestyle from the imperial dynasties (1368-1912 A.D.). “These workshops are preserving and developing the traditional crafts and arts that are almost lost,” says Yang Zhongping, Chinese folk expert, a tourist attraction with these intangible cultural heritages is being more prefered by visitors. Preservation is one step in Zhouzhuang’s plan to protect the traditions; the town is also searching for new ways to bring the old heritages into modern life.
Besides the annual windmill season that celebrates the days when windmills were used in agriculture, Zhouzhuang’s Craftsman Bazaar, unveiled in 2014, is an artistic and creative ground where young designers join veteran craftsmen to carve a new path for handicrafts in the modern day life. Young artists and designers come to Zhouzhuang for inspiration, whereas their support of local craftsmanship brings vitality to this ancient water town.
Visitors to Zhouzhuang can easily find these crafts that represent old and long lost memories in the city such as dough figurine and handmade embroidered shoes. “It’s time to find those old memories by hand, to protect our traditions, and to create or redesign while inheriting in order to approach integration of ancient life and contemporary art,” said Sima Teng, an artist and designer from Shanghai.
Those craftsmen and artists living in Zhouzhuang all have stories to share through their works, while contributing to the vibrant culture and unique lifestyle in the town. The fusion offers a glimpse of the ancient Chinese civilization and a virtuosic touring experience.