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    Embracing Chinese Culture through Traditional Folk Art


    08 Jun, 2016

    10 : 00

    • Culture is a culmination of environment, history, tradition, and language. For one to truly comprehend the culture of another country, it’s vital to must immerse oneself within all aspects of said culture. YCIS Beijing’s Chinese Language and Culture Programme aims to expose our students to all facets of Chinese culture. During this week’s interactive China studies class, traditional Chinese folk art was used as the medium for understanding Chinese culture.

      Getting Festive with Zongzi (粽子 Zòngzi)

      Coinciding with this week’s Dragon Boat Festival (known as 端午节Duānwǔ jié ), Year 4 students learned all about the festive holiday snack called  Zongzi. To begin the class, students were introduced to the sad tale of Qu Yuan, an ancient Chinese poet who inspired the Dragon Boat festival. Students learned that Zongzi, glutinous rice originally wrapped in silk packaging but now more commonly wrapped in bamboo leaves, were originally made to distract hungry fish after Qu Yuan threw himself into a river. This year, rather than making Zongzi from perishable rice, students were taught how to make a more decorative Chinese folk art version of zongzi using wool. Students first folded pieces of cardboard in a series of complex movements and then began the slow meticulous process of wrapping it with wool. By the end of the process, students were delighted to find their colourful zongzi had taken shape. With each student armed with their finished zongzi and in-depth understanding of the Dragon Boat Festival’s history, they were excited to share their newly acquired knowledge with their parents over the upcoming long weekend holiday.

      Finding the Beauty in Dough

      Year 3 students were also treated to their own Chinese art class, learning the method for creating traditional dough figurines. With a history of over 4000 years, legend has it that Chinese dough figurines originated during the Three Kingdoms Era (220 – 280 AD). It is said that a military strategist developed the technique of creating dough soldiers as a means of fooling water spirits in order to allow safe passage across a river. Mr Feng, local dough artist, recounted the story to our captivated students before teaching them how to create their own dough parrots. Seemingly simple yet deceptively complex, students found the art of creating dough figures to be no easy task. However, with quick and precise rolling of the dough, students saw their own dough parrots come to life. Soon the entire classroom was filled with a menagerie of Chinese dough parrots of all different shapes and sizes.

      Hands-on Cultural Learning

      Through the use of Traditional Chinese folk art, YCIS Beijing students became exposed to the history, legends, and language that make China such a unique country. These two outwardly simple yet deeply complex classes expertly demonstrate the value of YCIS Beijing’s project-based learning. Through this combination of language, history, tradition, and environment, our Years 3 and 4 students have learned far more through this one hands-on experience than they could in a single normal classroom.

      To find out more about YCIS Beijing’s Chinese Language & Culture Programme, please follow this link. To learn the latest about what’s happening on and around our beautiful campus, please click here.