The Second Silk Road International Arts Festival began in Xi’an earlier this month, with monthlong exhibitions, dramas, dances and concerts planned by visiting artists and officials from countries that shared trade and cultural links with China along a network of overland and marine routes in ancient times.
This year, the festival that opened on Sept 7 in the capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi province features artists and scholars from 62 countries and regions. In 2014, artists from some 30 countries attended the first edition of the cultural event.
Culture Minister Luo Shugang, who was also present at the opening this year, called the festival a “cultural project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative”, which will “drive the understanding of both Chinese culture and those of nations on the Silk Road”.
Lou Qinjian, governor of Shaanxi province, says: “The festival aims to boost cultural exchanges among people from various nations along the Silk Road.”
The festival features paintings by artists from 50 countries, including Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Chinese ink painters from China National Academy of Painting are also presenting their works depicting landscapes they sketched during their travels to countries on the ancient Silk Road.
As part of ongoing festival, visitors to Xi’an can enjoy Bollywood dance performances, Latin concerts from Cuba and Mexico, modern dance from Israel and much more.
Drama groups from the Netherlands will stage children’s dramas for one week and performers from different provinces in China will also bring musicals and dramas mainly concentrating on stories from centuries ago along the Silk Road, routes used by Chinese traders to sell silk and porcelain abroad.
Other than performances, the festival also has lots of lectures and cultural seminars by scholars on topics of history, the arts and religion. Many of the scholars will speak in local universities during their stay in Xi’an.
Xi’an has held lots of cultural activities under the Belt and Road Initiative since last year, including a film festival and expo. The arts festival is going to be held annually, according to the provincial government.
As the capital city of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the city is considered the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.
It has for long contributed to China’s interactions with the world, says Zheng Xin-miao, former director of the Palace Museum in Beijing, who attended this year’s festival.
The city should have the confidence and the ability to promote Chinese culture, he adds.
More than 2,000 years ago, Xi’an started frequent trade exchanges with Asian and Arab nations.
“When I stand here and look back at our history, I can hear the ringing of bells around the necks of camels in the desert,” Zheng says.