Cultural exchanges with outside world
In 2002, the number of cultural exchange programs with Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign countries totaled 912 with participation of 13,600 people, involving 59 countries and regions in the world. For the cultural exchange activities, 438 groups of 5,265 people went abroad and 474 overseas groups of 8,335 people came to visit Guangdong.
Museums and Public Libraries
Guangdong Province has over 160 museums and memorial halls with collection of 540,000 units of cultural relics. In 2002, more than 2000 exhibitions were staged with visitors of above 8 million. All the museums and memorial halls in the province jointly launched the theme event of the International Museums Day on May 18th to promote the public awareness of protecting cultural relics. Over 500,000 people attended the event and visited museums.
Guangdong Province has 125 public libraries above the county level. Guangdong Zhongshan Library successfully developed the System of Automatic Information Service for the Libraries at the Provincial Level (ZSLAIS) and the digital library. The Integration System of Library Automatic Service (ILAS), developed by Shenzhen Library, has been applied to over 160 libraries across China. Guangzhou Library was the first one in China to include computer-subject books in its collection for public reference.
Liangcha (herbal tea of cooling property) is one of the favorite drinks for many natives of Guangdong in the hot and humid summer when people are vulnerable to dryness and summer-heat and cold-type syndrome, known in traditional Chinese medicine as heat syndrome. To dispel the heatŁ¬many folks in Guangdong like to drink herbal tea, whose ingredients are mostly honeysuckle, hawthorn fruit, white mulberry, saposhnikovia root, cicada slough, pagodatree flower, oriental wormwood, among others. The common types of Chinese herbal tea of cooling property are Wang Lao Ji, Xia Shang Ju (summer mulberry leaf and chrysanthemum), Tea for Colds, and Shaxi Herbal Tea.
The dress style of ethnic Yao people, living in the northern and central part of Guangdong Province features themselves with local distinction. In Paiyao, Liannan County, for example, the men of Yao people like to bind their hair with red cloth, and insert pheasant feather into their bound hair, dress loquat-styled garment which is both collar-free and button-free, and bind their waist with a strap of cloth. Women like to bind their hair, cover their heads with black cloth, wear necklace and earrings, dress the same styled garment as men, put on trousers and wrap their legs. In Ruyuan county, the men of Yao ethnic group keep short plaits, cover their heads with flowery scarf, dress short and large garment whose front and rear are all embroidered with square-shape pattern, put on big and loose pants, wrap their legs. For women, they would put on angle-shaped tall hats, wear long-sleeve clothes, bind their waist, and wrap their legs.
Blockhouse towers are the outstanding landmarks in the architecture of Wuyi (referred to 5 overseas Chinese hometowns in Jiangmen Municipality). The 1920's and 1930's were the prime times of such architectures, over ten thousands of which were built in Taishan and Kaiping. The blockhouse towers used to be high among all the buildings in a village so that any intrusion into the village could be timely spotted from the top. Most of the towers are three to five floors high, some even 9 floors, and all are built in various European styles.
People in Enping (an overseas Chinese hometown) have the tradition to celebrate the lantern festival. In this ritual, villagers will play wind instruments with eight-tone music accompanied by drumbeats and dance colored lions on their way to the village altar to welcome the altar spirit to dwell in the lantern compound. Inside the compound are hanging colorful flower-shaped lanterns and sacrifices contributed by all the households in the village. The young and old from the same clan gather in the compound to have a big family dinner. By the evening all the families in the village shall have Tongxinzou congee, whose Chinese pronunciation is the same as the one of Chinese character meaning "hollow inside" or "reaching the heart" (for shallot is added to the congee and it is hollow inside). In this way they believe they can have good luck at every turn. After having congee, unmarried girls will go to the vegetable field with their friends to "Touqing" - to pluck the vegetable. At the end of the festival, the altar spirit will be returned to the village altar.
People in Wuyi - referring to the 5 famous hometowns of overseas Chinese in Jiangmen Municipality, love to perform dragon dancing. The dragon can be made of either banana tree - banana dragon, paddy stalk - stalk dragon, or connected long stools - stool dragon aside from samite dragon and gauze dragon. But the most eye-catching dragons are found in Zilai Village known for its Zilai Golden Dragon and Chaolian reputed for its Chaolian Gauze Dragon in the suburb of Jiangmen Municipality. Zilai Golden Dragon is delicately made and flamboyant. The dragon has a huge shape as long as some 70 meters divided into head, body and tail. The head of dragon is large; the body of it is covered with golden scales extending all the way to its long tail, making the dragon look so gorgeous by reflecting glittering golden light, which carries the meaning of wealth, honor and luck. The gauze dragon is mainly made of bamboo strip and gauze, complemented with colored adornment. The dancing of such dragon is usually put on during the night. When dancing, the body of dragon is all inserted with lighted candles, making it so much like the real one. Chaolian gauze dragon is composed of 25 segments as long as some 40 meters and in need of 120 persons to dance it, presenting a spectacular scene.