By: Anirban Ray
The Chinese pavilion at Amerat Park, aptly painted dominantly in red, is revolutionary because of the goods it has to offer.
Ten stalls, each representing a province or region in China, offer a variety of items – handmade clay vessels, silken dresses, calligraphy depicting the Yin-Yang philosophy and vases made from dried bottle gourd.
Brilliantly painted designs catch the attention of visitors.
On closer look, one realises that they have been made on dried gourds.
The art form is centuries old, says Wang Xiao Qi.
“We call these art pieces hulu and they are used at homes, offices as well as government establishments. It is believed that hulus help keep one healthy, safe and ward off evil.”
The dried gourds with their kernel removed are used as vessels to store water, Wang says.
She is an expert at making designs on the dried gourd’s body.
Over the years Chinese artists and even farmers have been decorating them with designs and calligraphy. For her designs, Wang uses principles and teachings by Confucius.
It takes almost month to make a design on a hulu, depending on the size and design.
At Amerat Park prices of hulus range from RO20 to RO250.
Tie-dying is depicted in another stall.
The process of tie-dye typically consists of folding, twisting and pleating of a fabric or a garment and binding it with strings or rubber bands, before dying it.
Wang Ya Rui, a tie-dye artist, says the process is not a novelty.
“Although people think this is a new concept, people in China have been engaged in this art of dying silk cloths for years,” Wang says.
She adds, “We use bright colours and bold patterns that are spiral. They can look good on every material.”
A tie-dyed cloth is sold at prices between RO1 and RO5, depending on its colour, texture or material.
Traditionally, Chinese have mastered brewing a special tea which they call Wulong. From the Fujian province, Wulong tea is a blend of green and black tea and is brewed four times, says Yang Canxia, a tea taster.
“Wulong tea is expensive but has many health benefits,” she says.
The stall also has a small ceremony where teas of different colour and taste are poured into small cups and dishes.
The art of making and serving tea is an integral part of Chinese culture.
“Tea is also a multi-million dollar industry in several countries in Asia,” she adds.
SOURCE: Muscat Daily