Cultivating crops and felling bamboo, crafting clothing, and refining silver, his every movement embodies the simplicity and purity of ancient times, like the ancient Chinese lifestyles. He achieves self-sufficiency in materials and mastery of skills, by reviving traditional crafts and cuisine, completely captivating the modern individual accustomed to advanced technology.
"Feel the charm of traditional culture from the perspective of the ancients, and write the words of history as a vivid picture", in this article we'll introduce Lu Lei to you, learn to feel the wisdom of the ancients while experiencing the leisurely idyllic life. Lu Lei seems to have traveled from ancient times, dressed in traditional Hanfu clothing, with long hair and a headband, living in seclusion in a remote village in Fujian. He tends to a few acres of flower fields, keeping company with cats and dogs, living a leisurely and carefree life.
Intangible Cultural Heritage in Ancient Chinese Lifestyles
Next to the trickling stream, cut down a straight rice-paper plant, remove the branches and leaves, extract the core, and with superb knife skills, peel them into thin sheets of paper. After trimming petals of various sizes, they undergo processes such as moistening, shaping, gluing, and drying, and a plump and distinct peony flower grows from the Lu Lei's dexterous hands.
The coloring process is also very soothing. Take some self-made antler glue, naturally dissolve it into liquid, mix it evenly with crushed clamshell and cinnabar, and dip the brush in this natural watermelon red dye. From deep to light, the flower is dyed into a gradient of soft pink, with a delicate and charming appearance.
The finishing touch is the delicate stamen in the center. Cut out fine fringes on a narrow sheet of paper, color them with bright purple and yellow, and then carefully roll them up. They are then embedded between the layers of petals and arranged among the green leaves. Realistic and dreamlike, the peony's beauty and fragrance suddenly come to life.
During the misty rainy season, Lu Lei was overwhelmed by the romantic atmosphere of the mountains. In order to express his feelings, he spent over two months personally crafting a delicate and exquisite oil-paper umbrella.
At dawn, he arrived at the 500-meter-high bamboo mountain, where he felled a mature bamboo tree over five years old. After soaking it in the cool stream for over a month, he fashioned the umbrella framework with varying lengths of umbrella ribs. He used cotton thread to connect the rough outline of the framework, and then applied decorative patterns on the umbrella face with pasted paper. After brushing it with refined tung oil, he waited for the sun to dry it, and the oil-paper umbrella gradually took shape.
Building the umbrella net was a test of patience and attentiveness. Using five-colored silk threads symbolizing "gold, wood, water, fire, and earth," Lu Lei wrapped them around every hole and color, and if he made a mistake in one hole, the whole thing had to be undone and started again. After 2500 back-and-forth stitches, the densely arranged and orderly geometric mesh was like a thriving peony, blooming with great warmth.
The lifelike peony flowers and the charming oiled paper umbrella demonstrate the delicacy and tenderness that lies deep in Lu Lei's nature. As for this carefree and unconstrained young man, his reclusive lifestyle, far from worldly strife, is incomplete without the company of toys.
A vivid and vibrant intangible cultural heritage paper kite, with its fresh color palette and exquisite craftsmanship, soars through the azure sky, propelled by the delicate silk threads.
For Lu Lei, the ancient Chinese lifestyle can be shaped entirely by his own exceptional skills and ingenious creativity. Through his display, the once obscure intangible cultural heritage crafts are revitalized, showcasing their unique charm and vitality.
Restoration of Ancient Chinese Inventions
Lu Lei's more hardcore works draw reference from the technological treatise "Tiangong Kaiwu" from the Ming Dynasty, in which he directly reproduces the ordinary or rare inventions from several hundred years ago.
Lu Lei carried a square white stone slab from the forest, which was chiseled into a smooth semi-circle with a sturdy chisel. After the sundial had taken shape, precise scales were drawn and different hours were marked, followed by patient and meticulous chiseling.
The finishing touch was carving a three-dimensional and elegant lotus flower on the blank slate, and using a homemade drilling tool to bore a hole, attaching the sundial needle. In this way, it could be leaned against a stone surface parallel to the ground, showing the changes of the sun.
The making of sundial is undeniably impressive, but perhaps even more remarkable is the silver refined personally by Lu Lei. He takes legally obtained silver ore, breaks it into small pieces, and grinds it into a powder using a manually crafted water-powered trip-hammer.
The key step in silver metallurgy comes next - according to ancient texts, if enough air is blown into a mixture of silver and lead, the lead and furnace ash will undergo oxidation and produce a type of traditional Chinese medicine known as "Mi Tuo Seng". Since lead is averse to ash, it can be easily separated from the burned residue. After more than half a month of repeated refining, a small palm-sized piece of pure silver is finally born.
Huo Zhe Zi
We occasionally see Huo Zhe Zi in costume dramas, a common way for the ancient Chinese to get fire outdoors, and Lu Lei tried to make one. The fire line inside, made of natural sweet potato vines, reed tassels, and cotton, is mixed with saltpeter, sulfur, camphor, and rosin.
The ancients were accustomed to integrating natural forces into agricultural society when creating inventions. With Lu Lei's meticulous restoration of this advanced and little-known scientific knowledge, our doubts have been perfectly resolved.
Making Ancient Daily Necessities
In addition to traditional skills, items needed for daily life are also among the types of products made by Lu Lei.
Bamboo Salt Toothpaste
Begin by grinding a pot of crystal clear coarse salt, then mix it evenly with bamboo leaves and Ji Nei Jin (a traditional Chinese medicinal herb). Spoon the mixture into a bamboo tube, let it sit overnight, paste it with mud, and roast it in a fire pot. This is how the essential ingredient bamboo salt powder is obtained.
The next steps are relatively simple. Grind the three main ingredients, pearl, peppermint, and bamboo charcoal, into powder. Filter alkali water from the mixture of wood ash and water, mix and stir them evenly. Then bamboo salt toothpaste is done.
The production of shampoo is also quite fascinating. Raw materials such as soapberry, fleeceflower root, mulberry leaves, and cypress leaves, which are picked from the mountains and forests, are put into hot water and boiled for two hours.
In the filtered liquid, red sugar blocks that can thicken and prevent decay are added. After continued boiling, cooling, and dripping in fresh lemon juice, the traditional shampoo is complete.
Living in remote countryside fields, besides basic necessities, one must rely on himself to cook every meal, which entirely depends on the pioneering use of natural ingredients.
Picking a basket of wild Chinese dates and boiling them into a jelly-like substance can be kept at home and used as a remedy for rheumatism or fever. Planting a watermelon field and making cooling watermelon frost can make a person feel much more comfortable when their throat is inflamed. In addition, konjac tofu, steamed lotus root stuffed, and osmanthus jelly. With Lu Lei's exquisite cooking skills, the last link in the pursuit of the ancient Chinese lifestyle was filled in.
Perhaps the reason why Lu Lei's videos are popular is due to the yearning for ancient Chinese lifestyles and the desire for a non-conventional lifestyle. In this tumultuous and noisy world, finding a cool and peaceful place is not easy. Lu Lei can bring a touch of freshness and comfort to your restless and busy life. And let us all strive to live the ideal life that we envision.