Across China: Apsaras, terracotta warriors and swimsuits: Modern products enliven ancient culture

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-18 19:42:59|Editor: mingmei
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LANZHOU, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Imagine visiting the ancient grottoes in northwest China's Gansu Province. You are met with fairies floating in the clouds, and a magical nine-colored deer running through the air.

Now imagine them all on a swimsuit.

A design team recently introduced these elements from ancient Chinese folklore into the fashion world, with typical elements from the grotto frescos such as flying fairies and the nine-colored deer featured in swimsuits and beach blouses, which have all sold out on Taobao, the e-commerce platform under Alibaba.

The images of the flying apsaras can be seen on murals in Dunhuang's Mogao Grottoes, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage site in Gansu. The site used to be a popular marketplace, travelers' stop and a religious shrine on the ancient Silk Road.

The apsaras-themed clothing, jointly developed by the Dunhuang City Museum and Taobao, has gained great popularity for its cutting-edge fashion design.

It is part of Taobao's project to create innovative products based on elements from national cultural treasures. The project connects Taobao and museums across the country to help "bring modern elements to traditional culture," and "enliven" cultural heritage.

"Haoqisimi," the vendor that sells the swimsuits on Taobao.com, said that every detail in the swimsuits and blouses displays the ancient culture of Dunhuang.

"For example, the wavy colors on the right side of the blouse are typical colors featured on Dunhuang murals," said the vendor.

It is not the first time for the museum to set foot in the field of cultural and creative products. The museum curator Shi Mingxiu said that they had worked with luxury brand Hermes to create a variety of high-end products in the past. The products were mainly sold in brick-and-mortar stores.

"With our latest online project, we are helping more people to get to know the culture of Dunhuang," Shi said. "E-commerce platforms have huge data flows, which can help spread the word much faster and wider than traditional stores."

Kou Zhong, with the Taobao project, said that they plan to develop many products to allow natural treasures to be "closer to the public," particularly young people.

In the past few months, the project also introduced innovative products such as mini-sculptures featuring the Terracotta Warriors, facial masks based on the "face-changing" technique of Sichuan Opera, and chairs related to the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, in the southwestern Guizhou Province.

"We incorporated design, spin-off products and supply chains, just to expand the market," said Zheng Zhong, with Taobao's marketing department.

In recent years, an increasing number of intellectual properties with Chinese cultural elements has flooded the creative cultural industry. The Palace Museum's lipstick launched last December, for instance, was wildly popular among young people due to its exquisite design inspired by the cultural relics housed in the museum. Sales of the novel lipstick, chairs and skincare products have all seen sales skyrocket.

"Upon the release of the swimsuit, more products will follow," said Shi Mingxiu, the Dunhuang City Museum curator. "Our products may even extend to decorative materials, such as tiles featuring the lotus pattern, which is commonly seen on the Dunhuang murals."

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