Across China: Fostering craftsmanship plus tourism in Yunnan's ethnic county

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KUNMING, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- To craft a batch of quality pottery, Tang Jialong has to toil for approximately 17 hours around the kiln, whose temperature exceeds 1,100 degrees Celsius inside, delicately controlling the kiln's wood fire and air exposure.

The craftsman now runs a pottery workshop with his elder brother in Hani and Yi Autonomous County of Ning'er, Pu'er City, southwest China's Yunnan Province.


Born in a family with a pottery-making tradition, the brother duo is famed for their exquisite potteries in the local market, and over recent years their handicrafts have also wooed customers in other provinces and from overseas.

However, becoming a pottery master was not a career chosen by Tang at the very beginning.

"Before my thirties, I studied hotel management and worked in Kunming for a long time and had a stable job there," Tang said.

Out of sheer love for pottery-making and encouraged by Ning'er's rosy development prospects, Tang returned to his home county and started his new career from scratch in 2014.

Back then, an expressway passing through Ning'er was already in operation, and the bustling local market of tea and coffee also spurred pottery sales, said Tang.

Thanks to his unrelenting efforts and local government support for him to participate in a raft of training sessions, Tang has accumulated more pottery-making know-how and attracted a rising number of clients with the experiential and customization services his workshop offers.

This year, Tang also received the title of Ning'er's county-level inheritor of intangible cultural heritage.

"We now receive a daily average of more than 100 people in our store, and our annual sales record averages 800,000 yuan (111,752 U.S. dollars)," said Tang.


Whenever he has a spare moment, 60-year-old carpenter Xie Yongjun goes to an art studio in Ning'er's Nakeli Village to practice woodcut art.

The village was once an important stop on the Ancient Tea Horse Road. Today, it has become a popular tourist town along the China-Laos Railway.

In 2017, Xie attended a woodcut art training program sponsored by the local government for rural people. He soon stood out with his talent, and one of his works won first place in the session's contest.

"Xie is a fast learner and creates with few restrictions or an obsession with skills. He paints his own life, " said Leng Guangmian, a teacher from the art college at Pu'er University, who also runs the training program for rural people.

Impressed by the talent of Xie and other excellent trainees in the program, Leng has maintained close contact with them and continued to teach them woodcutting.

With the increasing influx of tourists to the village, Xie also receives an extra income when they purchase his woodcuts showcased in the studio.

Like many other localities in Yunnan, Ning'er is poised to embrace more development opportunities through further integrating tourism with its rich source of cultural heritage, ranging from hand-craftsmanship to ethnic dances and musical instruments.

During the first six months of this year, Yunnan recorded 539 million tourist visits, up 35 percent from the same period in 2019. The tourism revenue from January to June totaled 693.4 billion yuan, up 22 percent from the same period in 2019, according to official data. Enditem

(Reporting by Wang Xuchen, Chen Shihui and Cao Pengyuan)

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