Collecting Memories: The Village of Paper-Making for Thousands of Years
“Cosmopolis #1.5: Enlarged Intelligence”,Shiyan, Jiajiang, Chengdu, China
Cosmopolis #1.5 invited two interdisciplinary collectives – Arquitectura Expandida from Colombia and Gudskul (ruangrupa, Serrum, and Grafis Huru Hara) from Indonesia – to Shiyan village in Jiajiang County for residencies engaging with local communities. They initiated collaborative processes to expand community engagement in generating new forms of rural transformation. The shared experimentations around the common village spaces were developed through workshops and interventions that seek to articulate social dynamics and develop new tools and strategies. The resulting projects use both tangible and immaterial resources locally available to collectively generate new understandings of the potential of rural contexts.
Shiyan is a centuries-old village in Sichuan province, whose name is inspired by its geography: “two mountains facing each other, with a stream of water in between”. The village belongs to Jiajiang County, within Leshan Prefecture in the southwest of Sichuan Province. It is 126km away from the biggest hub city of western China – Chengdu.
Jiajiang County was established during the Sui Dynasty (AD 593). Its rich water and bamboo resources are well utilized by the inhabitants in the light of local conditions. Facing the fact that they were surrounded by mountains and lacking fileds, they developed a sophisticated and delicate culture and industry of hand-making Xuan paper (bamboo paper for Chinese painting and calligraphy).
In the 1940s, Zhang Daqian (a famous master of Chinese painting who lived in Shiyan) researched and developed a modified form of bamboo paper craftsmanship with local papermaking farmers, creating “Daqian Calligraphy & Painting Paper”.