With the official establishment of the Beijing Phoenix Handicrafts and Tourism Group, the construction of the corporation’s major project, Beijing Baigongfang, also started. Baigongfang means literally “a workshop for 100 kinds of handicrafts.” When completed, it will become the largest handicrafts base in the country, where visitors can see masters of various areas demonstrate their skills and train apprentices.
Beijing Baigongfang will be built near the north gate of Tiantan (the Heavenly Temple) Park in Chongwen district. A hundred nationally or provincially renown masters will work in 17 workshops specializing in such handicrafts as jade, ivory carving, cloisonné, colored glaze and so on. Each workshop will have a shop in the front part and a factory in its rear part.
The workshops will be arranged in the layout of a hutong (lanes in Beijing’s traditional residential areas). Besides the performance of crafts-making, there will be also shows reflecting the traditional lifestyle of old Beijing given by packmen and civilians roaming through the lane.
“Baigongfang” used to be the name of the department in charge of handicrafts in ancient China. Chongwen district, where the workshops will be built, is believed to be the cradle of Beijing’s handicrafts industry.
According to an official in the Beijing Handicrafts Association, the purpose of the Baigongfang project is to rejuvenate the industry which has been declining for lacking specialized young successors who can carry on the skills of the old-generation masers.
Baigongfang will occupy an area of 40,000 square meters, with a total investment of 200 million yuan (US$24.15 million). Construction is scheduled to be completed in two years. A new attraction for tourists from home and abroad, it will serve as a window for foreigners to know more about traditional Chinese culture.
The workshop of pearl, the first completed of Baigongfang’s workshops, has begun receiving tourists at a trial stage.
(china.org.cn by Chen Lin, July 25, 2002)