Nearly 100 foreigners experience Chuan Ta, a Chinese intangible cultural heritage

On the afternoon of December 28, “A Cross-Cultural Journey” under the framework of Unveiling Yunnan was held at Kunming Expo Garden. Nearly a hundred foreigners experienced the ancient art, Chuan Ta (Chinese Rubbing), which is a traditional technique in China to copy and preserve cultural relics.


People who participant in this activity come from 27 countries, which are Canada, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Nepal, Laos, Yemen, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Madagascar, Pakistan, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Congo, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand.


Zhang Heng, the master of Chuan Ta, explained the rubbing culture to foreigners firstly. Chuan Ta is used to copy the characters or patterns on cultural relics, and it is more effective than taking pictures of old inscription. Foreigners were able to understand the value in doing rubbings to preserve ancient works through Zhang Heng’s introduction.

Many of foreigners were attracted by the rubbings hanging on the wall. There were leaves rubbings with clear veins, Pu’er tea rubbings with tea colors, and goldfish rubbings with vivid appearance. After that, Zhang Heng introduced the specific operation process of Chuan Ta, and invited others to make a wet rubbing work together. 


As the ink bags repeatedly hit the rice paper, a rubbing pattern gradually cleared with everyone’s efforts. It symbolized peace, communication, openness and sharing. 

Foreigners learned how to make rubbings by using ink stones. Isuru from Sri Lanka was deeply impressed by traditional Chinese culture. “My country and China have same culture, I think.” In Sri Lanka, he said, there are techniques similar to Chuan Ta, and it’s regarded as a kind of art.

“I used red paper to rub a ‘fu’ character. I will put it upside down on the door during Spring Festival for blessing.” Ella from Myanmar is fascinated by Chinese culture. She not only made some rubbings for herself, but also drew some zodiac for her parents. Ella also rubbed a quotation from Confucius. She knew the quotation well and applied it to her life. She believed that when three are walking together, there must be teachers among them. “I will select their good qualities and follow them, avoid their bad qualities,” said Ella.


This is the second time for Richard, a foreign teacher from Canada, to participate in the activity of Unveiling Yunnan. He crayoned leaves when he was young, and the experience of Chuan Ta reminded him of his childhood. “Those old stones were really difficult to read. Now I can see why we’re doing a rubbing of the stone.” Richard explained, “It’s much more effective than taking pictures to see the characters on the stone. I can see the values of doing rubbings to preserve ancient works.” 

Lin Kaiwen, a teacher from Southwest Forestry University, said that it was an opportunity for overseas students to experience traditional Chinese culture. He wished they could learn from this event, and shoulder the role of spreading profound Chinese culture and thoughts to the world. 


Seeing foreigners doing Chuan Ta enthusiastically, Zhang Heng said, “I hope they can use Chuan Ta to protect the cultural relics in their country, and to develop their hobbies and creations.”

After 4-hour learning, the foreigners made a lot of rubbings with their own characteristics. They experienced the charm of intangible cultural heritage, while deepened their understanding of Chinese traditional culture.

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(Editors: Christine, Rachel)

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