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WATCH: NPC deputy dedicated to carrying forward Chinese handicrafts

Hou Zhanying, an experienced craft designer is also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress. (People’s Daily Online/Yuan Meng)

Hou Zhanying, an experienced craft designer is also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress. (People’s Daily Online/Yuan Meng)

Published Mar 10, 2022

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By Yuan Meng, Liu Ning, Zhang Liya, Xiang Shizhen

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Hou Zhanying, an experienced craft designer and also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), has been devoted to integrating Chinese elements into her design works. This year, she will file motions for the continued development of the industry at the upcoming “Two Sessions.”

Hou, head of the designing department of Beijing Orafi Jewelry Co., Ltd, has designed China’s national medals and gifts, as well as ornaments for daily use, together with her team. One example is a national gift provided to spouses of foreign leaders at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2017. It is a Chinese-style jewel box, which integrates traditional Chinese craftsmanship such as lacquer carving, filigree inlay and engraving with 3D printing. “A national gift must embody the culture and image of China,” said Hou. “Its design and manufacturing must include Chinese elements,” she added.

Her confidence in China’s traditional culture has grown in the process of designing. “My team and I are ready to present Chinese culture accumulated over thousands of years in our artworks,” she said.

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Hou believes innovation is vital for Chinese-style handicrafts to go global, and modern fashion can inject more vitality into traditional artworks. “Traditional Chinese culture is always the foundation of the design. In the meantime, our team captures some fashion trends and blends them together. The whole process requires exploration and learning new things, as well as summarizing a unique design method,” she explained.

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Hou, who’s in her final year of a five-year term as a deputy to the 13th NPC, is now very familiar with her political work, but still feels stressed somehow. “I come from the frontline of the industry, so my proposals and motions must reflect the true situation and help address problems in the industry. All my fellow deputies are representatives from all walks of life, and their motions are all very professional. I must work tirelessly to improve myself,” she said.

"Harmony Under Heaven: ’“Jewellery Box Set" designed by Hou's team. (People’s Daily Online/Yuan Meng)

Hou has two motions for the upcoming “Two Sessions” – brand building that mainly focus on bridging the final gap in removing barriers for passing on intangible cultural heritage and opening up for the survival and development of art and design enterprises and the sustainable and high-quality cultivation of talents for the industry. She hopes relevant measures such as the assessment and evaluation of inheritors of intangible culture heritage, pricing, and inclusion in government procurement plans will be rolled out to help workers in the industry enhance their confidence, build brands, and ultimately, boost the development of the whole industry.

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As for cultivating talents, she hopes schools and enterprises will work together to cultivate professionals, and calls for a talent incubation mechanism involving the government, industry and enterprises.

Hou believes that increasingly more young people will devote themselves to the art and design industry in the future. "Many young people love traditional Chinese culture, and they will feel pride in this career. We inherit not only a craft, but also thousands of years of civilization.”

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