China first museum of straw arts & crafts opened in Yinzhou District, Ningbo this year. It's built over the period of two years and invested about 6 million yuan covering a land area of 3,000 square meters.
The museum formally named as Huanggulin Museum of Straw Arts opens to the public free of charge.
The museum is composed of 3 sections: exhibition hall, demonstration hall and showroom. Among them, exhibition hall is divided into 6 parts, namely history of straw mats, mat grass, mats-plaiting, mats-weaving, market of mats grass, history of mat grass, to reproduce the ancient locals' straw arts history and characteristics of human beings lived in there from different aspects.
In nearly 500-square-meter demonstration hall, it is presenting the arts and skills of straw making by some old folk artists for visitors.
There are a wide ranges of mat grass or rushes crafts on display in the showroom, where a 15-minute-video is running, recorded a complete process from the rush harvesting to the methods of mating.
In the regions of Huanggulin of Ningbo China, mat rush planting and its plaiting have enjoyed a 2,700-year history, of which straw arts and crafts has been included in the Zhejiang province-level protection lists of intangible cultural heritage. Therefore, pictures, text and objects on display tells of 2700 years of glorious history of straw arts in China.
Old wooden plows, flat rakes, straw mat loom, straw mat mower, old-fashioned spray machine... All these mat straw supplies all come from the private collection.
"When I was 8-year-old pupil, I learned to make hats. When 10 years old, I knew how to make mats. And now I'm 80 years old, round fan making seems not difficult for me." In the museum presentation room, 80-year-old villagers aunt Cao had made a moon-shaped fan in 4 hours. The couple of Chen's, also have completed the processing of a straw mat. A visitor said, "it's a real eye-opener to me."
It is understood that the traditional arts and crafts in handmade straw matting and straw plaiting is now involved in only about thirty households, and employees are generally at the age of 60 years.
The museum also spared no expense in customizing a few dozen lifelike wax people whose images appear to be really realistic, including those who are weaving straw hats, some matting rush straw arts for kids, on the background of the old village home.
It is worth mentioning that in 1954, when Premier Zhou Enlai participated in the Geneva meetings, he also gave 40 rush mats made in Ningbo City as gifts specially to international friends, which got be very welcomed.