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Visitors flock to Hainan's first Dongpo festival

China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-17


Su Dongpo's statue in Danzhou Dongpo Academy. [Photo/Hainan Daily]

As night falls, a festival featuring Dongpo food culture welcomes an influx of residents and tourists, including many young people, to enjoy the feast of food and culture at a commercial street in Haikou, capital of South China's Hainan province.

Dongpo pork and fish, and other delicacies related to Su Dongpo, a well-known poet of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), are mouthwatering, and the poetry recitation of Su's masterpieces is fantastic.

At a food stall decorated with Su's poems about food, Xu Yue, a senior student at Qiongtai Normal University, enjoyed such food and the famous works of Su.

"What I see in these poems is not only the food, but also Su's open-mindedness and heroic attitude toward life in the face of difficulties and adversity," she says.

Xu says Su's poems and spirit, as the precious heritage of China's traditional culture, have had a profound influence on later literati and following generations. "I believe Su's spirit will be better spread in the future, and Chinese culture will pass on more power to us in a new form," she says.

"I've felt a strong cultural atmosphere at this festival," says Wang Wenxi, a sophomore at Hainan Normal University, donning a traditional Chinese costume.

"There are many people around me who like Dongpo culture and traditional Chinese culture. We organize activities during festivals to promote traditional Chinese culture," she says.

As a Chinese cultural icon, Su not only achieved remarkable things in poetry, painting and calligraphy, but was also famed as a gourmet and expert in water conservancy.

Since ancient times, Su's influence is extensive and far-reaching.

In 2000, Le Monde, a French newspaper, named the world's 12 heroes who lived around the year 1000, and Su was the only Chinese among them.

Su has a deep bond with Hainan. In his later years, Su was relegated and exiled to Hainan for three years. Su became an important initiator of Hainan's culture and was deeply loved and remembered by people here.

The first Hainan Dongpo Cultural Tourism Festival, which was celebrated on Feb 18, sought to promote Dongpo culture through various activities, including performances, food and a singing competition.

In the singing competition, Liu Tairan, 27, won the award for best original composition. As a director and music producer, Liu says he was Su's big fan and was very happy to have the opportunity to perform his song for more people.

He says Su lived 1,000 years ago, but he is not far away from modern life as he had a temperament suited to this era. "Dongpo and traditional culture give me cultural confidence, and also provide inspiration and materials for my creativity," he says.

Peng Tong, deputy secretary-general of Hainan Su's Research Association, gave a lecture on Dongpo culture at Hainan Normal University last month. Peng says the college students were absorbed in the lecture and were passionate about Su, while welcoming Dongpo culture to the campus.

As a researcher of Dongpo culture, Peng says he is very pleased to see young people engaging with it, as well as with traditional Chinese culture.

"Younger generations need to gain strength and nourishment from traditional Chinese culture," he says, adding that the excellent traditions represented by Dongpo culture appeals to more young people, and will have a profound influence on them.