Peking Opera artist Dong Fei started sharing his stories of the traditional Chinese art form on Douyin since 2018, taking the opera closer to more young Chinese. Photo is a screen capture from the Douyin app
Peking Opera artist Dong Fei started sharing his stories of the traditional Chinese art form on Douyin since 2018, taking the opera closer to more young Chinese. Photo is a screen capture from the Douyin app

By Yang Chenghu, Cui Li

Traditional Chinese culture and art has gain a foothold on short video platforms and attracted a large number of young followers thanks to the explosive growth of the short video industry in recent years.

Last year, the number of short video users in China exceeded 820 million in a market size of 200 billion yuan. Relaxing, emotional and fragmented, these video contents perfectly match the demands of the users. With the application of new technologies such as social communication, recommendation algorithm, and immersive experiencing, short video platforms are seeing more users, becoming a shining spot of new internet media.

Surprisingly, traditional Chinese operas are a major beneficiary of the flourishing short video industry, and are even becoming popular among the young generation. Huangmei Opera, originated in Hubei and Anhui provinces, is one of the five major traditional operas in China. Recently, Huangmei Opera “Female Consort Prince” became a hit on short video platforms as a lot of young users covered the aria in their own way and shows great artistic talents. The interactive platforms are expanding the charm of the traditional opera among young people.

Peking Opera also gained popularity on short video platforms thanks to a series of augmented reality (AR) effects. Users love to film clips with a set of virtual facial makeup, headwear and costumes, which are designed base on traditional Peking Opera costumes. Statistics indicate that these effects were applied by more than 18 million users, most of whom were young people.

Pop music mixed with opera elements are also widely circulated on short video platforms. According to estimates, in the first half of 2019, users of video-sharing app Douyin produced more than 65 million pieces of short videos about traditional culture, and these clips were played 16.4 billion times and received 4.4 billion likes.

During the same period, more than 2.9 million Chinese opera-themed short videos were produced on Kuaishou, a rival of Douyin, covering 168 opera genres. Peking Opera-related videos were the most popular ones, with 1.58 million uploaders producing such content on the platform.

In addition to Chinese operas, intangible cultural heritage items, such as embroidery, papercutting, printing and dyeing, shadow play works, oiled paper umbrella making, bamboo weaving, and mortise-tenon joint structure technique are also actively promoted on short video platforms.

Last year, 1,200 of 1,300 items of China’s national intangible cultural heritage were presented on Douyin. A shadow play challenge saw 4.05 billion clicks and attracted a large number of young users to imitate the moves of the figures in shadow plays.

In the first half of 2019, more than 2.9 million opera videos were created on Kuaishou, covering 168 types of opera; over 18 million videos about intangible cultural heritage were produced, receiving over 700 million likes and 30 billion views.

In a word, short video platforms are becoming an important channel to display China’s intangible cultural heritage.

Short video platforms, innovatively offering a fun, popular and easy way to explore the traditional art forms, are receiving a lot of positive feedbacks from China’s young generations. The seconds, or minutes long videos have produced remarkable achievements in promoting traditional Chinese culture.

Source: People’s Daily

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