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Traditional Chinese Calligraphy tools for world heritage list

China will seek to have its four ancient writing tools - the brush, ink stick, paper and ink stone -included in the world's intangible heritage list.

The four have been known as the "Four Treasures of the Study" since the Song Dynasty (960-1279) because they are the basic tools in traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting - both essential skills for a scholar.

"Though few people still write with a brush today, the 'four treasures' have recorded China's civilization and themselves represent the essence of traditional Chinese culture," said Guo Haitang, president of the Chinese Association of Four Treasures of the Study, a Beijing-based organization that oversees the production and preservation of the writing tools.

the brush, ink stick, paper and ink stone

About 20 million Chinese still use the brush and ink stick to practice calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting, according to a survey conducted in 2000.

China hopes the four treasures will be listed as masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said Guo.

Four cities that have long been recognized as producers of the best writing tools will submit the application together, said a spokesman with the city government of Xuancheng, in east China's Anhui Province.

Xuancheng is known for high-quality paper and ink used by artists across China and sold to many countries in Asia, Europe andAmerica.

At least 400 local companies still produce the traditional writing tools today. Together they employ more than 10,000 workers and report an annual output of 100 million yuan (12.5 million U.S. dollars), the city government said.

It said Xuancheng will submit the joint application with Huzhou,a city in east China's Zhejiang Province known for its quality writing brushes, Zhaoqing in south China's Guangdong Province and Shexian county in Anhui Province. The latter two are home to renowned ink stone producers.

Representatives from the industry were present at a meeting in Beijing recently to prepare the application.

China has vowed to better protect its intangible cultural heritage from the challenges of urbanization and globalization.

In June, the central government published its first intangible heritage list, which includes the Spring Festival, Peking Opera, acupuncture, the Legend of Madame White Snake and Shaolin Kungfu.

The list contains 518 items in 10 categories, covering folk literature, folk music and dance, traditional opera, ballad singing, comic cross-talk, acrobatics, folk fine arts, traditional handicraft, traditional medicine and folk customs.

In 2001, China's Kunqu opera was listed by the UNESCO as a "masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity".

Kunqu Opera

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Last Updated on Sunday, 15 August 2010 15:55