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Intangible Cultural Heritage

    Gongshu District is situated at the south end of the Grand Canal as is marked by the aged Gongshu Bridge. It embraces a long history and rich culture with the ancient canal running through for miles and there comes the old saying “The Grand Canal aged thousands of years; The silver Hushu running dozens of miles”.
   The long historical years left behind not only copious antiques but also a brilliant folk culture, an extraordinary treasure in culture and art which presents the soul and the magnificent ideas of the canal people. Moreover, the distinctive geography adds peculiar colors and makes it a wonderland of artistic charm as exemplified by the section from the prosperous Wulin Gate to the weather-beaten Gongchen Bridge where the largest amount of historical relics of the most representative features converge. The section also bears the most profound cultural connotation and plays a vital role throughout history.
    During the recent years, with the rapid development of social economy and the impact of modern culture, intangible cultural heritage is melting away. In order to practically save and reserve the precious legacy, special attention is now paid to the collation of historical and cultural fragments especially the rediscovering and the protecting of the Grand Canal relics as the re-sorting and the reserving of which means so much for the popularizing of the “the Grand Canal World” and the refining of the culture taste. To respond to the call of the government, massive surveys and applications have been launched, efforts to conserve the heritages have been taken. Up till now great progress has been achieved as can be seen in the accomplishments of the phase.
    Teams of all levels were set up: the “Leading Team of Gongshu District Folk Art Conservation Project”, survey teams made up of mainly cultural centers of the district, towns, and communities as well as teams of instructors, experts, counselors and the like. They wonderfully interacted with each other and made possible the comprehensive carrying out of the project. Furthermore, allocated fees and instrument for the surveys and the conservation work have been implemented. The three-leveled (the district, towns/blocks, villages /communities) conservation network has also been improved.
    With years’ joint work of the 200 enumerators from all parties of the district, great achievements have been made: 18 categories of intangible cultural heritage have been rediscovered which include folk culture, folk handcrafts, traditional medicine, social etiquettes and so on; 5000 clues are spotted among which over 1000 have been taken subjects for research and are recorded in written materials. And more than that, 27 legacies are in the intangible cultural heritage conservation list; Banshan Celebrating Customs for the Beginning of Summer, South Canal On-The-Water Lantern Festival are ready for the application for traditional city festival celebrations and the latter even makes the district one of the traditional festival conservation bases of the province; 13 bases like Huachao Festival, Banshan Claycat Celebration are built up and the latter has also applied for the national nominee for representative works of world intangible heritage; 8 exhibition posts are settled including those for the exhibition of Tianzhu chopsticks and mini-kites, people may go to places like the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal Museum, the district cultural center, Mishi Lane Community, Hushu Community etc. to have a look around. At the province level, there are 6 conservation projects from Gongshu District (South Canal On-The-Water Lantern Festival, Xiaohe Tianzhu Chopsticks, Gongchen Bridge Huoquan Martial Art etc.) and another 8 have just been authorized. ZhangXiaoquan Scissors has been listed as a national intangible cultural heritage. Apart from that, HeZichu, successor of Huoquan Martial Art, WangLiandao,successor of of Tianzhu Chopsticks and together with another successor, are waiting for the authorizing at the province level. 
    For the next three years, conservation projects will stick to the guidelines of “Focus on conservation, put rescue first, utilize reasonably and carry down the legacy.” Meanwhile, further steps will be taken to better the work of researching, protecting, applying, and passing down legacy. Basing on the reality and heritage characteristics of the district, future work will be focused on: first, put on more exhibitions and performances, collect more tangible relics, and purchase various multi-media instruments to present the intangible heritage in the form of pictures, samples, videos, files and even models; second, juxtapose the saving and protecting with publicizing, publish illustrated books about intangible cultural heritage to present the achievement; and third, make efforts to set up more bases, seminars to pass down experiences, and keep all the work persistent.
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