Donglin Academy Makes a Connection with Guqin Art -- “National Heritage Conservation” Sites Adds One More Studio for Intangible Cultural Heritage Inheritor

Through the great efforts of Donglin Academy Management Center and Wuxi Intangible Cultural Heritage Conservation Center, Gu Ying’s Studio, which is the second studio for intangible cultural heritage inheritor established in one of the 31 national major heritage conservation sites, has been set up in Shiyu Chamber of Donglin Academy. (Gu Ying, the inheritor of Wuxi municipal intangible cultural heritage Guqin Art; Shiyu represents timely rain). Now, apart from previous items, such as Chinese classes for children, presentation of traditional etiquette, and lectures held by various talents in Donglin Academy, Guqin Art also integrates into Donglin Academy.    

Gu Ying, a policeman, whose hobbies are Guqin and Kunqu Opera, is a descendant of Gu family belonging to the Shangshe Jingli branch (Shangshe and Jingli both are places) and is crazy about studying traditional cultures. In addition, driven by the identity as an intangible cultural heritage inheritor, Gu Ying believes that he should find a suitable place to launch activities about promoting intangible cultural heritage. Since 2015, Jiangnan Qin Association and Tianyun Agency that Gu Ying has joined have been cooperating with Donglin Academy. They regularly organize “Elegant Donglin Gathering” every year, inviting specialists and talents to hold a public activity every month in the form of cultural and artistic performances and mini-lectures and inviting the audience to enjoy the performances of Guqin and Kunqu Opera so that the tradition of cultural groups from the Academy can be passed on. For over three years, “Elegant Donglin Gathering” has become an urban culture brand activity emblematic of high culture, spreading its fame to Changzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai, Hunan, etc.

This summer, the emerging “Elegant Yunke Gathering” in Yunke Garden, tea as a bond, together with “Elegant Donglin Gathering”, characterized by Guqin and Kunqu Opera, embellishes Wuxi with high culture. Yunke Garden is a municipal heritage conservation site and Donglin Academy is a national heritage conservation site. For those sites, the cultural relics themselves are still, but with human’s spiritual activities injected into them, their value can be exploited and their vitality can be released. When the invisible cultural heritage, those traditional crafts spanning hundreds of years that inheritors master, integrates with the visible cultural heritage, those cultural relics come to life. Considering the situation, Rong Junyan, the director of Donglin Academy Management Center, and Gu Ying, municipal intangible cultural heritage inheritor of Guqin Art, quickly reach agreement on establishing Gu Ying’s Studio and make it thanks to the previous “Elegant Donglin Gathering”. They hope to create a model studio and explore new ways of inheriting and transmitting intangible cultural heritage. Gu Ying has planned out the future of his studio: thematic Guqin training, a series of lectures, exhaustive local history sorting and research starting from Wuxi’s Guqin history.

According to Wuxi Intangible Cultural Heritage Conservation Center, nowadays, intangible cultural heritage projects at different levels in Wuxi have owned their separate masters’ studios or promotion bases in Wuxi Folk Industrial and Commercial Archives, Wuxi Higher Vocational School of Tourism & Commerce, Wuxi Vocational Institute of Commerce, etc. Before, in 31 national major heritage conservation sites in Wuxi, only the Former Dwelling of Xue Fucheng owns a delicate embroidery studio for 11 years, where the late provincial intangible cultural heritage inheritor of Wuxi delicate embroidery Wu Mingwen has successfully cultivated two municipal inheritors. At that time, having seen some satisfactory achievements, the Former Dwelling of Xue Fucheng set up “needlework seminars”, which organize activities of inheritance open to the society in a fixed place, after the establishment of that studio, and has harvested so much vitality and attention brought by the intangible cultural heritage. Now, Donglin Academy also establishes a studio for intangible cultural heritage inheritor, emphasizing the transmission of intangible cultural heritage. Gu Ying hopes to gather enthusiasts of traditional cultures, and hunt for and cultivate talents in Guqin Art through the platform.