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Canal culture sees revival in Tianjin

exploringtianjin.com|Updated : 2021-12-06

After half a century, the Tianjin canal labor song, a kind of folk song, is being sung again on a wooden boat in Tianjin Binhai New Area. Led by one boatman and accompanied by others, the song attracts the attention of tourists. Next to the boat, a team of video cameramen capture the scene.

Yang Mingqi, head of the Xiqing District Archives, is delighted at the revival of the folk song, as he has put in a lot of effort into it. He said that the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China emphasized the protection of cultural heritage, which was an inspiration for his work.

The Grand Canal runs over a length of 170 km in Tianjin, including parts of the city's Northern Canal and Southern Canal. The Sanchakou River section, with a total distance of 71 km, is listed as a world cultural heritage. The Grand Canal gave birth to Tianjin and made the development of the city possible. Meanwhile, it is also a cradle of precious cultural heritage. The canal labor song is one example.

More than 200 historical sites related to the Grand Canal have been discovered in Tianjin, including river channels, ship docks, bridges, dams, warehouses, guild halls, and ancient courier stations. The richer the cultural heritage is, the greater the pressure on protection and inheritance is. In recent years, Tianjin has made efforts to explore, inherit and promote the culture of the Grand Canal with the support of a series of policies.

Since 2018 Xiqing district has conducted field investigations and rescue excavations of cultural heritages related to the Grand Canal in the area. Based on the results gained from the activity, a TV documentary and a series of books were published.

Jinghai district built Tianjin's first canal museum — Chenguantun Canal Culture Museum — in 2015. Thousands of cultural relics and pictures recreate the spectacular sights of the Grand Canal. Tao Mengzhen, curator of the museum, said that since opening, the museum has received 300,000 tourists and has become a window for the public to experience the charm of the Canal. 

A number of cultural parks with the Canal as the theme are becoming the destinations preferred by Tianjin residents for leisure travel.

In April, the construction plan for Yangliuqing National Grand Canal Culture Park was passed. In the future, the park will promote the protection and inheritance of the Grand Canal culture.