A student paints in Sanhe village. Picture: Han Chaoyang /Xinhua
A student paints in Sanhe village. Picture: Han Chaoyang /Xinhua

Village in China shakes off poverty by developing outdoor painting industry

By People’s Daily Online SA Time of article published Mar 26, 2021

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Sanhe village in Funiu Mountain in central China’s Henan province has shaken off poverty and prospered through developing an outdoor painting industry since 2016.

Leaving poverty behind in 2018, the village has received over 30,000 visitors and garnered revenue of over 4 million yuan (about $ 609,200) over the past two years.

Sanhe village is the most severely deprived village deep in Funiu Mountain, as the village is far away from the world outside and only has barren land, lacking natural resources such as minerals and forests to support development.

In 2014, more than 130 households of the 415 households in the village were registered as living in poverty, according to Wu Songsheng, Secretary of the CPC Sanhe village committee.

However, the village saw a turning point in 2016, as Feng Yake, a young man majoring in fine arts, spotted opportunities to develop an outdoor painting industry here. He realized that the green mountains, lucid waters and villagers were suitable for art students who need outdoor observational practice.

In 2015, he returned to his hometown with 1.5 million yuan and built the first hotel in his village, which was for students who came to the village for observational drawing. About 2,000 visits were paid to the village, generating revenue of over 200,000 yuan in merely six months since it opened.

Aerial photo shows the scenery of Sanhe village, Huangzhuang town, Songxian county in central China’s Henan province. Picture: Li An /Xinhua

Feng’s success enlightened local villagers. They built pavilions for observational drawing, renovated old houses and tofu mills, while maintaining their original styles, and reinforced the red brick walls and flat roof houses. Soon the village took on a new look, and over 70 art studios began to cooperate with the village. The village gained a reputation as a “village for observational drawing,” with some of the villagers posing for students and some starting businesses roasting lamb.

“Going forward, we will make our village a destination for cultural tourism, which is not only a holiday resort, but also a research and study base,” Wu said ambitiously.

* This article was published in partnership with People’s Daily Online SA.

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