China
The Zhejiang Wu Opera Troupe performs a scene from the military opera Mu Guiying, which tells the story of a legendary woman general. The troupe is based in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province. Photo by Sojin Kim, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution A calligrapher uses water to form lines of poetry in People’s Park in downtown Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Water calligraphy is a popular practice in many Chinese parks and public spaces. Photo by Sojin Kim, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution Kites on display at the second China Intangible Cultural Heritage Exposition, a five-day event held at Taierzhuang Ancient Town in Zaozhuang, Shandong Province. Photo by Jim Deutsch, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution A calligrapher uses water to form lines of poetry in People’s Park in downtown Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Water calligraphy is a popular practice in many Chinese parks and public spaces. Photo by Sojin Kim, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution

China

Tradition and the Art of Living

China is the world’s most populous country and second largest economy. As its international prominence increases, so too has the pace of industrialization and new construction. What’s more, within China’s borders, the largest rural-to-urban migration in human history is currently under way.

China: Tradition and the Art of Living will take visitors beyond the news headlines and ubiquitous mass-produced goods to highlight creativity, heritage, and masterful skill. It will show China as a country of diverse communities whose experiences reflect regional, occupational, and religious distinctions. And it will honor the people who, despite current change and pressures, are working to continue and adapt traditional culture in ways that are meaningful today. Through a variety of formal and informal strategies, communities are sustaining a rich range of traditions, including those that have been disrupted or threatened by such forces as war, natural disaster, and migration.

The Festival program emphasizes the themes of BALANCE and REUNION, processes of more profound importance than ever in China. Individuals and communities face new opportunities but also daunting challenges as they adapt lifestyles and traditions to ever-shifting contexts, working to reconcile the momentum toward growth and change with concern for cultural and environmental sustainability.

The China program will feature seasonal festival traditions, emphasize the exuberance of public life, share the meaning and preparation of Chinese foodways, engage visitors in craft and performance workshops, and highlight the country’s cultural diversity. The program will present exemplary, contemporary artists in some of the region’s oldest traditions—from kite-making to calligraphy, martial arts to Mongolian long song. By sharing their experiences and demonstrating their extraordinary artistry, the program participants will forever transform how people understand the phrase “Made in China.”

This program is produced in partnership with the China International Culture Association, working with the China Arts and Entertainment Group.