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Monumental celebration in Macau to mark the 10th anniversary of Unesco World Heritage recognition

Variety of artistic and cultural events highlight designated landmarks in the historic centre while promoting the city’s unique culture

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 9:20am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 9:20am

Macau is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its historic centre earning official recognition as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The city’s collection of notable monuments is a rich tapestry of Portuguese and Chinese history, and includes more than 20 locations such as A-Ma Temple, Moorish Barracks, Mandarin’s House, Dom Pedro V Theatre, the Ruins of St. Paul’s and Guia Fortress.

To recognise this milestone, the Macau government has arranged activities that cover everything from art to culture, research, academic projects and heritage forums in order to promote the city’s unique culture.

In addition, a series of books have been released to commemorate the anniversary. Among them is The Historic Centre of Macau by Tang Si Peng, featuring numerous images of the buildings along with some blueprints, and offers an overview of the 25 sites that make up the heritage site. Its launch is part of a series of new books ranging from academic work to fiction and poetry.

Continuing in an academic vein, the government and the Centre for Macau Studies at the University of Macau jointly held a seminar featuring scholars and experts on architecture discussing conservation and cultural heritage.

As part of the drive to emphasise the importance of preserving historical sites, the city is presenting an exhibition at the site of the Ruins of St. Paul’s on safeguarding cultural heritage in Macau. Running until August 15, the exhibition covers the development of heritage efforts in the enclave, which has resulted in a robust conservation platform.

Additional exhibitions include a photography exhibit on the historic centre, and a global mapping exhibition opening in November that will show the city through cartography.

The anniversary has also allowed the city to demonstrate its involvement in the arts, with a series of innovative performances at Barra Square. Acts have included a Turkish shadow play, a Xinjiang Uigur Mukam dance, Chizhou Nuo opera and an Indian Awantika Kathak dance, in addition to Chinese folk dancing and dramas presented by local groups. The array of global talents helped to highlight Macau’s status as a melting pot of culture, art and tradition.

This image has been reinforced by locally tinged theatre, including the “Mobile Museum – A-Ma Bamboo Theatre” that hosted Chinese opera workshops and lectures, and performances by the Macau Youth Repertory Theatre that portray everyday life in the city.

The Macau Orchestra, Macau Conservatory and the Macau Chinese Orchestra held concerts to perform works by composers with strong ties to the city, and international performances in dance and dramatic arts have also been staged in conjunction with the anniversary.

Building on the momentum, the Macau Museum of Art is showcasing  “Tension of Talent”, a calligraphy, painting and seal exhibition of the works of Wu Rangzhi and Zhao Zhiqian, from September 13 to November 15. The exhibition examines the lives of these two masters of Chinese crafts from the late Qing dynasty, and offers a window into that tumultuous period in history. Wu Rangzhi (1799-1870), for example, was forced to escape from the Taiping Rebellion and made a living with inscriptions, calligraphy and painting, while Zhao Zhiqian (1829-1884) rose through the official ranks in imperial China, developing a style known as new seal calligraphy.

The contrasting fortunes of these two artists will be seen through more than 200 works of calligraphy, painting and seal cutting, many of which are considered to be rare masterpieces. The unveiling of these treasures, rarely seen by the general public, will be a fitting way for Macau to cap off the celebration of its heritage.