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Swordsmakers keeping it in the family


03-01-2017 11:51 BJT

By CCTV.com Panview editor team     

Editor’s foreword: "Looking China" International Youth Film Project is co-organized by the Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture (AICCC), Beijing Normal University and Huilin Foundation, which aims to showcase the contrasting simplicity and glamour, the antiquity and fashion of China through unique perspectives of young foreign film makers.

As of the year 2016, 101 students from 25 countries were invited to participate in the project. They were stationed in 13 municipality, provinces and autonomous regions here in China. Every filmmaker has worked out a 10-minute short film about Chinese culture around the topic of “ethnic minority”.

The film, Blademaster, directed by Tristan Schafer, puts the spotlight on ethnic Baoans who keeps the tradition and techniques of crafting Baoan swords. However from 2006 to 2016, the number of Baoan swordmakers had dwindled down to 250 families in China.

The swordmaking industry consists of ancient traditions. To craft the best swords, you need blacksmiths who can fire the metal in a furnace and use a big metal hammer to shape it.

It’s a long and difficult process, so the best blacksmiths are those who received training at a young age. That’s why swordmakers usually got the job, because their fathers and grandfathers had taught them when they were children.

The film follows one blade master who said he comes from five generations of sword makers. He himself was awarded as one of the inheritors of this national-level intangible cultural heritage. He holds fond memories of his grandfather, whom he deemed a very masculine man. He spoke of his father, who was recognized as a champion swordsmith.

He spoke about how when he was 6 or 7-years-old, he already aspired to follow in his family’s career footsteps. His 8-year-old student appears to be an avid learner of his father’s craft.

Such family activities are admirable and destined to keep them closer together for many generations to come.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)

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