Hello from Guangzhou! For our second field trip, we ventured to the ancient village of Shawan. Shawan is a village that has recently received funding to improve its tourism infrastructure. Cultural tourism has been a growing industry in China for some time now. Tourism in China is often a pathway to other forms of economic development, including industrial production of some cultural heritage products.
The second leg of our journey was with a heritage organization focused on the preservation and exhibition of the Piaose parade tradition in the Panyu region, of which Shawan Village is a part. The Piaose tradition is a combination of drama, dance, acrobatics, and decorative arts.
The form creates an illusion of the Bodhisattva (any person on the path to become a Buddha) floating and was part of a ritual to pray for a good harvest. Initially, the ritual involved papier-mâché representations of the Bodhisattva, but was then innovated to include young children representing the Bodhisattva. It is a stunning illusion supported by some of the most amazing blacksmithing techniques I have seen.