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Modern day forgetful of past favorites?
   CCTV.COM   2003-02-11 10:02:40   
    A great variety of China's folk arts, customs and traditions come into full bloom with the passing Lunar New Year. However, some flowers of festive culture are fading and even dying in the modern day. Chuanghua -- decorative paper-cutting, and Nianhua -- new year pictures, are the most endangered species.

    With a history stretching back hundreds of years, Chuanghua and Nianhua - symbols of jubilance and prosperity, used to play indispensable roles in the decoration of Chinese homes during the Spring Festival.

    But how about their fates in modern times? A street in Yuxian county, dubbed "the Town of Paper-Cut", used to be crowded with vendors selling countless paper-cuts. But, this year, only two stalls sit lonely in a desolate scene.

    The current situation for Nianhua is just as sad. The cities of Wuqiang and Yangliuqing are traditionally the two most famous producers of Nianhua. This year they sold no more than 300,000 pieces between them, a sharp drop from the 3 million of 1990 and believe it or not, the 1 billion pieces of Nianhua that were sold annually in China back in the early 1980's.

    What happened to force these time-honored customs into decline, losing their foothold in the festive marketplace? Are they really that out of date? Or have modern people just forgotten all about their past favorites?

    "Many people are interested in the works, they like them very much but just don't want to buy them," said Ma Xixin, culture researcher of Wuqiang City Museum.

    Insiders say that the craftsmanship of paper-cutting and Nianhua is just the same superb standard as before, or has even improved. According to their analysis, people won't take them home, largely because most of the works don't match the style of modern home decorations.

    This recognition has led some people to reform the old styles. A paper-cut factory in Yuxian county has blazed new trails, their market orientation goes beyond new year decoration. With refined packages, their products are made into precious gifts or valuable collections. The factory has also targeted the international market and made a profit of 200,000 yuan RMB from exports this year.

    Nevertheless, experts say that to make the old customs of pasting Chuanghua and Nianhua survive and be revived, they have to be transformed to meet the requirements of everyday Chinese people - that is to make them go along with the pace of modern life.

Editor: Han Ling

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