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Visitors take in the sights at Pingyao. Photo: IC

游客来平遥观光。

On a cold winter's night outside the ancient walled city of Pingyao in northern China, hundreds of people gather to watch an unusual theatrical production.

在中国北方古老的平遥古城外的一个寒冷的冬夜,数以百计的人们聚在一起观看一场非同寻常的戏剧演出。

Eight women in traditional costume towel-dry six muscular and freshly-bathed men, before suddenly sinking their teeth into the men's arms as they howl in pain.

八名身着传统服饰的女性将六名肌肉饱满,年轻的男人洗干净,然后用牙齿咬向他们。

"If you die, the teeth marks will guide your spirits home," a narrator tells the audience.

一位解说员告诉听众:“如果你死了,牙痕将把你的精神引导回家。

This was how bodyguards were sent off to protect merchants in the Qing Dynasty, in a scene that has been brought to life by Chinese director Wang Chaoge in her interactive play, Another Glance at Pingyao.

这是清朝时期的保镖们被派去保护商人的方式,在中国导演王朝阁的互动剧“ 平遥另一面”中,这个场景已经被人们抛弃了。

The play is part of a series of theatrical performances created by local directors, often held at UNESCO World Heritage sites, aimed at rediscovering history and traditional culture. In many ways, the show symbolizes the city's recent artistic renaissance.

该剧是由当地导演创作的一系列文艺演出的一部分,通常在联合国教科文组织世界遗产地举办,旨在重新发现历史和传统文化。在许多方面,这个节目象征着这个城市最近的艺术复兴。

The performance focuses on a cultural trope that is all too familiar to Chinese - preserving the family bloodline. But the story, about a bank owner who threw all his wealth into rescuing an employee's kidnapped son and died with 232 bodyguards in the process, also touches on business culture and character traits that the Chinese are proud of.

表演重点是一个对中国人来说太熟悉的文化比喻 - 保持家庭血统。但是这个故事讲述的是一位银行老板把全部财富全部投入救出一名员工被绑架的儿子,并以232名保镖身亡,同时也触动了中国人为之骄傲的商业文化和性格特征。

"I was awed by the spirit of integrity and righteousness. I saw many were moved to tears," said one viewer in an online forum.

我被正直和正义的精神所敬畏。我看到很多人被感动得流泪,”一位网友在网上论坛上说。

"[The play] epitomizes the character of Shanxi merchants," said another member of the audience, a Pingyao native. "We hold loyalty and fraternity in high esteem."

“(该剧)集中体现了山西商人的性格,”另一位观众——平遥本地人说道。“我们非常尊敬忠诚和友爱。”

The play has been a huge success, grossing 100 million yuan ($15 million) in 2017 alone, with tourists traveling to Pingyao, in Shanxi Province, from far and wide to catch this unique take on Chinese history, culture and beliefs.

这出戏取得了巨大的成功,仅在2017年就取得了1亿元(1500万美元)的票房收入,游客们还可以从遥远的地方前往平遥,捕捉中国历史、文化和信仰的独特之处。

City of history

历史

The walled city of Pingyao was built to its current form in the 14th century, and was named a world heritage by UNESCO in 1997, as "an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city."

城市平遥城墙建于十四世纪,1997年被联合国教科文组织列为世界遗产,被誉为“中国传统汉族城市保存得非常好的典范”。

The city put itself on the map in the 19th century as China's financial center. Banks flourished as Shanxi merchants expanded their businesses across the country.

这座城市在19世纪成为中国的金融中心。随着山西商人在全国各地扩张业务,银行业务也蓬勃发展。

"In its heyday, Pingyao hosted 22 bank centers and controlled nearly half of the money in the country," said Gao Chunping, a researcher at the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences.

山西社会科学院的研究员高春平(音)说:“平遥在全盛时期接待了22家银行中心,并控制了全国近一半的资金。”

Today, tourists come in great numbers to the bank museum - an imposing courtyard which houses the remnants of China's first draft bank, Rishengchang, which was established in 1823.

今天,游客大量涌入银行博物馆 - 这是一个宏伟的庭院,它是1823年成立的中国第一家银行日盛仓的遗留物。

"People often marveled at how the banking forefathers created ultra-safe pin codes with Chinese characters," said Gao Xianhui, a local tour guide. "It was a time when we rarely used Arabic numerals. And yet there were very few cases of pin theft fraud."

“人们常常惊叹于银行的先辈们如何用汉字创造出超安全的pin码,”当地导游高西慧(音)说。这是一个我们很少使用阿拉伯数字的时代。然而,很少有诈销欺诈的案件。

But Pingyao's golden era did not last. In the early 20th century, the banks collapsed one after the other as the Qing imperial government fell and an influx of foreign banks came in equipped with better technology.

但平遥的黄金时代并没有持续。20世纪初,随着清朝政府的倒闭,外资银行纷纷涌入,技术水平较高,银行纷纷倒闭。

The city soon became an economic backwater, and until a few years ago, visitors struggled to find ATMs in this former banking hub.

这座城市很快就变成了经济停滞的地方,直到几年前,游客们还在这个曾经的银行中心里挣扎着寻找自动取款机。

On the rebound

在反弹

But now, the city is in the ascendancy once more, littered with souvenir shops, restaurants, museums and theatrical performances like Wang Chaoge's.

但现在,这座城市又一次占据了优势,到处都是纪念品商店、餐馆、博物馆和像王朝热那样的戏剧表演。

A new genre of business has risen in the city, which teems with studios teaching centuries-old folk art, such as woodcut prints, paper-cutting, Peking opera masks and earthenware.

这个城市兴起了一种新的商业类型,它与工作室教授几百年的民间艺术,如木刻版画、剪纸、京剧脸谱和陶器等。

Hou Quanying, 68, a paper-cutting master, said that many foreigners frequented her studio, and loved the artwork pasted onto windows during festive occasions.

68岁的侯全英(音)是一名剪纸大师。他说,很多外国人经常光顾她的画室,在节日期间,她喜欢把这些艺术品贴在窗户上。

Deputy county government head Liu Guangming has said that "culture is the soul of Pingyao." Today that sounds more true than ever.

副县长刘光明说,“文化是平遥的灵魂”。今天听起来比以往更真实。

"This ancient city can only be brought to life if administrators give its rich history and traditional culture full play," he said.

他说:“如果行政官员充分发挥其丰富的历史和传统文化,这座古城就能够得以生存。”

Cities rise, fall, and rise again, whether it is in commerce, the arts or culture. And Pingyao is no different.

无论是在商业,艺术还是文化方面,城市都会兴起,衰落,再次兴起。而平遥也不例外。

On top of its annual film and photography festivals, and lavish Chinese New Year celebrations, the government plans to further play up the cultural card next year by introducing an international sculpture festival with European partners.

在一年一度的电影和摄影节以及春节庆祝活动中,政府计划在明年推出文化卡,与欧洲合作伙伴一起举办国际雕塑节。

Liu said the festival would also highlight the Shuanglin Temple, which houses some of the country's finest examples of colored Buddhist sculptures dating back to the 12th century.

刘说,这个节日也将突出双林寺,这是该国的一些最好的彩色佛教雕塑可以追溯到12世纪的一些例子。

"Preserving history is the future for us," said Liu, reading the slogan on display at the entrance of the government building.

“保护历史是我们的未来,”刘说,他在政府大楼的入口处看到了这个标语。

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