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Journeys of discovery

By YANG FEIYUE| China Daily| Updated : Jun 11, 2024


Visitors learn about making zongzi at the intangible cultural heritage museum recently opened by Wufangzhai, a century-old brand, in Jiaxing, Zhejiang. [Photo/China Daily]

Yao Xinguo recently landed the sweet gig of sharing his beloved zongzi (rice dumpling) techniques with visitors to a new intangible cultural heritage museum.

The museum was opened on May 8 by Wufangzhai, a century-old zongzi brand based in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province.

Yao first walks the visitors, mostly families with children, through the history and culture of traditional zongzi-making before demonstrating how to wrap the glutinous rice with bamboo leaves.

Two green leaves flutter between his deft fingers, and, in no time, a plump zongzi takes shape.

Fifteen families with children signed up for the tour the first day.

The children watched intently, eager to give it a try themselves.

"One hand should hold the leaves, while the other pushes them up. Just a pinch and a fold will do," says Yao, who has been making the traditional specialty for four decades.

The children could see how the different stuffings were made from scratch and how the rice was processed before being boiled. They also tried their hands at wrapping them.

Tea farmers show children how to collect tea leaves at a garden in Zaozhuang, Shandong, in April. [SUN ZHONGZHE/FOR CHINA DAILY]

"The experience will show them how zongzi are created and help them better appreciate the essence of the traditional craft," Yao says.

The museum has received many tour bookings and inquiries, says Xu Wei, deputy general manager of Wufangzhai.

She expected over 10,000 visitors during the Dragon Boat Festival, which is a traditional time to enjoy these snacks.

"People from educational tour operators, institutes of higher learning and trade unions have shown great interest," Xu says.

Other local cultural experiences, including encounters with farmers' paintings and silk embroidery, will be developed to satisfy the growing enthusiasm for educational tours, she adds.

"We will hold various intangible cultural heritage activities and exhibitions, and invite art masters and cultural inheritors to offer on-site lectures, so visitors can gain deeper understandings and experiences of intangible cultural heritage, and feel the unique charm of local folk culture," Xu says.

The new museum's popularity is thanks to the surging public enthusiasm for educational tours. Many tour operators have reported increases in orders over the same period of 2019.

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