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Yunnan souvenirs: Creative products of culture

Updated:2021-06-30 15:16:42   Yunnan Tourism and Culture Times

Editor's note: 

Yunnan is abundant in tourism and cultural resources, which has laid a solid foundation for the development of tourists’ souvenirs. In Mangtuan Village of southwest Yunnan’s Lincang City where the Dai people have lived for generations, tourists can DIY the age-old hand-made Dai paper and take it back to home. In Mengzi City of southeast Yunnan’s Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, they can taste the well-known cross-bridge rice noodle while learning about the beautiful noodle stories; In the Yunnan Provincial Museum, they can learn about how the relics are brought back to life. In recent years, utilizing its rich cultural and tourism resources, Yunnan has developed various types of cultural and creative products, which has largely diversify and enrich the market of local souvenirs.

While using modern technology and creative ideas, people turns souvenirs into creative products with profound cultural meaning. Yunnan province is abundant in cultural and tourism resources and has developed the cultural tourism as one of its pillar industries. In recent years, the province has seen a surge of production of creative cultural products, which has diversified and enriched the local souvenir market to a large extent, while creating a better travelling experience for tourists. Nowadays, it has become one of the must-do things for many tourists to buy Yunnan creative cultural products when travelling in Yunnan.


Take Yunnan gifts back to home

In the past, jade, Pu’er tea and refined oil were the three most popular tourist commodities in Yunnan. In recent years, as the province offers more diversified tourism services, the local development of tourist commodities is booming.

Black pottery, hand-made paper, tie-dye, embroidery, silver ware, paper-cut, wood carving, tin ware......as soon as these creative and cultural products of Yunnan are introduced to the souvenir market, they gain popularity among consumers.


In southwest Yunnan’s Licang City, the Mangtuan Village is mainly inhabited by ethnic Dai people who have passed down the traditional Dai hand-made paper for generations. 11 processes are involved in the making of the paper, including soaking, boiling and steaming, pulping, pouring and drying paper. Compared with conventional paper, the Dai hand-made paper is insect-proof, tougher and environmentally friendly. In 2006, the paper-making skill of Mangtuan was inscribed into the list of National Intangible Cultural Heritage of China.

To pass on the paper-making skills, the Mangtuan Village has set up a paper-making association, while working with the government to establish a cooperative which buys paper from villagers and turn it into notebook, desk laps, fans, paper-cuts and other souvenirs. Nowadays, these gifts made from Mangtuan paper have become one of the representative tourist products in Lincang. Each year, a lot of them are sold around China, and even to Myanmar and Thailand.

As Mangtuan village sold its paper to the outside world, tourists are rushing into the village to experience the profound local culture and enjoy the beautiful views. They can even DIY their our Mangtuan paper under the instruction of local guides and bring their works back to home as souvenirs. The paper now become a name card for local tourism.

In Jianshui County of Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, the purple pottery has enjoyed its fame of one of the Four Well-Known Pottery in China for hundreds of years. As tourism development gains its momentum in the county, the purple pottery is becoming more and more popular both at home and abroad. It is not only a local intangible cultural heritage, but also a cultural brand of Jianshui tourism. For most tourists to Jianshui, travelling to the Purple Pottery Park has climbed onto their list of must-do things. Jianshui now has also been dubbed as a city of purple pottery. Besides visiting the Purple Pottery Park, tourists can also experience the pottery culture in Wanyao Village and the Purple Pottery Street.


Taste the cultural feasts of Yunnan gifts

When it comes to Yunnan souvenirs, one must mention the local delicacies. Among the countless mouth-watering delicacies in Yunnan, many are listed as intangible cultural heritages such as the cross-bridge rice noodle as the national intangible cultural heritage, the Xuanwei ham and the Yiliang roast duck as Yunnan provincial intangible cultural heritage, the Xundian dried beef as Kunming municipal intangible cultural heritage, the Lijiang pea flour jelly as Lijiang municipal intangible cultural heritage and the steamed Ersi as Qujing municipal intangible cultural heritage...to just name a few.

These Yunnan-featured delicacies has not only attracted tourists from home and abroad, but also made into portable tourist commodities.

Located in Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Mengzi City is the origin of cross-bridge rice noodle which has topped the list of the Ten Yunnan Well-Known Delicacies. In 2015, its was inscribed into the list of China’s National Intangible Cultural Heritages. At the end of every September and the start of every October, Mengzi holds a festival featuring cross-bridge rice noodle and pomegranates. Then tourists from around the county would gather in the city, tasting the cross-bridge noodle and picking pomegranates.

Among all the activities held during the festival, the 10,000-guest feast of cross-bridge rice noodle is the most popular. During the feast, tourists can enjoy the most authentic rice noodle and learn about its culture and history. Different flavors and various types of cross-bridge rice noodle lure their taste buds, making their trip to Yunnan more unforgettable.

In recent years, to meet the demands of consumers outside Yunnan, the Mengzi Cross-Bridge Rice Noodle Development and Research Center has launched vacuum-packed cross-bridge noodle, bringing the local delicacy to more people around the country.

Fresh flower is one of the most important ingredients of Yunnan people’s diet. In recent years, the flower cake has become a must-taste desserts for many tourists when traveling to Yunnan, and a must-have gift when finishing the trip. Huamiao is one of the brands of Yunnan flower cakes. While promoting its brand, it uses personalized cartoon images to establish intimate relations with young consumers. “For those born in the 1980s and 1990s, they have strong self-awareness. So souvenirs also represents a kind of personality, ” said Sun Qianying, the brand manager of Huamiao. She said when buying or receiving the Huamiao, they can also get a personalized cartoon image.


The relics and souvenirs

Yunnan Provincial Museum has involved in the souvenir designing for a long time. In May 2018, the museum opened a creative and cultural experience store where over 200 types of creative and cultural products are sold, and all of them are creatively designed according to the images of items enshrined in the museum.

By cooperating with Junyu International, a company specialized in cultural designs, Yunnan Provincial Museum has rolled out a series of types of creative cultural products. “Many museums have joined hands with us to telling the stories of Yunnan culture by creating cultural products, ” said Shi Junzhang, person in charge of Junyu International. Now, the company has set up the Yunnan Culture and Creativity Alliance, together with over 20 museums.

In the development of creative and cultural products, Shi and his team follow the business model of all production chains. He said the reason to establish the alliance is to build a bridge between upper and lower streams of the production chain. The company now is considering to expand the cooperation to scenic spots. “We hope when tourists come to Yunnan’s scenic spots, they can find customized souvenirs with authentic Yunnan flavors,” said Shi.

Written by Duan Jianxin and Gong Jingyang; Translated by Zu Hongbing; Online photos

Keywords:   Yunnan souvenirs culture