Qingbo Subdistrict of Shangcheng District has launched six projects recently in a bid to reinvigorate cultural heritage passed down from the Southern Song dynasty. These projects cover a wide range of subjects, such as poetry, painting, music, and sports and will be jointly undertaken by Qingbo Subdistrict, School of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, China Academy of Art, and Hangzhou Westlake Institute of Sinology.
Of all these projects, one stands particularly prominent as it couples Southern Song heritage with the Asian Games Hangzhou 2022. Let us first zoom in on Hangzhou Westlake Institute of Sinology inside the Hangzhou Confucian Temple. The institute is making plans to hold sports competitions regularly where members of the general public can access some of the most ubiquitous sporting events during the Southern Song dynasty. The competitions which are made into competitive games as well as entertaining cultural events will be conducted subsequently in schools and communities in a form that mimics the well-known imperial examination system of the Song dynasty. It is designed with the ambition to promote the cultural heritage from the Southern Song and the Asian Games spirits with the Chinese characteristics.
How come a subdistrict has so much to offer when it comes to Southern Song heritage?
The answer lies in the layout of Hangzhou city in history. Qingbo Subdistrict was the heart of the city at the time of the Southern Song, with government offices on its front and fairs and markets on its back. It is now the subdistrict that has the most concentrated collection of cultural relics protection units, historical buildings, and locations of non-intangible cultural heritage. In its desire to preserve the city’s cultural foundation, Qingbo has been working consistently in organizing a variety of cultural events using heritage and resources derived from the Southern Song. The idea is to let the Southern Song heritage keep up with the waves of the times, by and large, through its interaction with the Asian Games Hangzhou 2022.
On the day the projects were announced, the first event of “The Asian Games in Song Dynasty Paintings” series was unveiled at the Affiliated Primary School of China Academy of Art. A 22-meter-long scroll of the famous painting “A Thousand Li of River and Mountains” stood on the playground, eliciting exclamations of amazement from guests, students and faculty members. Not far from there erected the gigantic reproduction of “The Football Players” by Ma Yuan and “A Hundred Children at Play” by Su Hanchen. The place that attracted the most attention was the green and yellow screen sitting in between the reproduced paintings which served as photoshoot background. Several students dressed up in Song dynasty costumes and posed in front of the screen, imitating the figures depicted in the painting, playing Cuju (ancient Chinese football game) or pitch-pot (throwing arrows into a pot). After the picture was snapped, the image of students would drop onto the background of the paintings and pop up on the wall next to it.
“We hope to set these children off on a treasure hunt, looking for traces of sports contained in the paintings of the Song period and trying some of the sports themselves so that they can develop a better understanding of the Southern Song heritage and the Asian Games as well”, the person from Qingbo Subdistrict who is in charge of the project noted.
The event also offered a treat of immersive experience based on five recreational sports that were all the rage in the Southern Song, namely pitch-pot, spinning top, Chuiwan (ball-hitting game that resembles modern golf), shuttlecock, and Cuju. Children were invited to compete in those games through a procedure similar to the imperial examination system which required candidates to go through tests at county level, provincial level, and imperial level successively.