China names 551 artists as master cultural inheritors

By Xinhua

Beijing : China’s Ministry of Culture Tuesday announced a list of 551 artists with the responsibility of carrying forward the country’s intangible cultural heritage, including Peking Opera and Mongolian Pastoral Song.

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Peking Opera master Mei Baojiu, 73, was one of those enlisted. His father, the late Mei Lanfang, a performer of the traditional art form, was one of the country’s most respected artists.

Peking Opera is taken as one of China’s most important traditional theater genres and has been proclaimed an intangible cultural heritage enjoying state-level protection.

Four items from China have been listed by UNESCO as world intangible cultural heritage. They are the 500-year-old Kunqu Opera, known for its graceful movements and poetic lyrics; the 3,000-year-old guqin seven-string zither musical instrument; the Twelve Mukams, a 12-part suite of ancient Uygur music; and the pastoral song sung by a Mongolian ethnic group.

Comedian Zhao Benshan, 51, a household name in the country, was named as chief inheritor of “Er Ren Zhuan”, a traditional song-and-dance duet popular in northeast China.

Zhao is always an attraction at the annual Spring Festival Evening Gala on China Central Television (CCTV) on the Chinese New Year’s eve.

According to the ministry, enlisted artists had to undergo a series of procedures, including recommendation by local cultural departments, assessment by an expert judging panel, public review and re-examination.

This was the second batch of artists conferred such a title. In June, the ministry designated 226 artists to help in the preservation of the country’s intangible cultural heritage.