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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Li Ziqi

Li ZiqiLi Ziqi, (Chinese: 李子柒) born July 6th, 1990) is a Chinese cuisine and traditional crafts artist, blogger and YouTube vlogger. She is known for creating food and filming her own handicraft projects videos in her hometown of rural Pingwu, Mianyang, Sichuan, often from basic ingredients and crude tools using traditional Chinese techniques.

Currently she has over 6 million subscribers on YouTube, 19 million followers on Sina Weibo, and has inspired many bloggers to post similar content.

“In today’s society, many people feel stressed, so when my followers watch my videos at the end of a busy day, I want them to relax and experience something nice - to take away some of their anxiety and stress.”

Li grew up with her grandparents in a rural part of Sichuan Province in southwestern China. She says she moved in with them after her stepmother mistreated her. She was only 14, when she went to the city in search of work, but later decided to return to the countryside in 2012 to take care of her grandmother after the death of her grandfather.

“When I worked in the city, it was about survival,” Li says. “Now when I work in the countryside, I feel like I’m truly living.” Four years later, she began filming her life there.

Li ZiqiHer videos depict Li and her grandmother as they go about their daily lives in their modest home. Li is often seen preparing elaborate meals for her grandmother using basic ingredients and traditional techniques.

“I simply want people in the city to know where their food comes from,” Li says. “A teacher friend once told me about some students who thought rice grew from trees. So I want kids in the city to know where their food really comes from”

Li is part of a growing group of online video makers in China. The market is competitive, worth an estimated $6.5 billion because of a potential audience of hundreds of millions of Chinese viewers.



Video channels depicting rural life are a dime a dozen. One only needs to scroll through TikTok and Kuaishou, a Chinese video app, to find clips of people catching fish with their bare hands, farmers fashioning clothes from burlap sacks, and campers rough camping in the wild.

But while many of these videos are fast-paced and cut with amatuer editing, Li’s videos have a professional cinematic quality.

Li Ziqi“I think this is just how things happened,” she says. “At first, when I did everything myself, I’d set up a tripod, film, and then press stop. That’s why all my shots are on a tripod and don’t move, and that’s why my videos are still filmed this way.”

Her detractors question the one-woman band premise, but Li brushes it off as simple envy. Two years ago, she uploaded a behind-the-scenes video showing how she used to operate by herself.

Currently she has help from a videographer and an assistant, but she still directs all her videos - not hesitating to give precise instructions on which angle to shoot from and where to stand.

“I’ve always been the director of my videos,” Li says, “from what to film and how to film to how each shot is framed. Often, my videographer only knows what he’s filming on the day of the shoot.”

Li never speaks more than a few words in her videos, but once off camera, she can be quit talkative. While her videos allow her audience to slip into a fantasy world, many of the techniques she shows are based on real-world knowledge and a genuine desire for the idyllic and simple lifestyle.

“I’m just filming my life,” she says. “Or rather, I’m just filming the life that I want.”

Li ZiqiLi Ziqi is a beautiful young Chinese woman who ascends above ordinary Do-It-Yourself into timeless artisanal craftsmanship. From her grandmother’s house, who raised her, Li teaches viewers the pleasure of doing things for ourselves, peacefully without any hurry, in videos of exquisite beauty.

She does everything herself, from planting to harvesting, and even making her own dishes and tools (not to mention creating her videos). Looking at her work is almost soothing. Her movements are practically hypnotic.

Li Ziqi’s videos feature her cooking and creating products, such as makeup or furniture and does it all without using any modern technology or electricity.

Growing up with her grandparents in rural Sichuan Province in China, she learned how to grow vegetables, fish, and make bamboo baskets. She also learned how to cook traditional dishes and do carpentry.

In 2015, her brother introduced her to the Chinese video app, Meipai and from that her video career took off. She started making short videos teaching her channel followers how to cook traditional meals using her own farm’s ingredients.

Li ZiqiIn 2017, she started her YouTube channel- gaining international attention. Now, she has 3.3 million Youtube subscribers, 2 million Facebook followers, and over 16 million Weibo followers.

In one video, she makes the “Scholar’s Four Jewels” - paper, ink, an ink brush, and an ink stone. She does everything herself- from cutting goat and rabbit fur for the brush hairs to chopping small trees to make the paper. The whole process took her a year and a half! At the end of the video it shows her meeting with the Malaysian royal family who are big fans of her videos!

In another video, she makes makeup ancient Chinese style. Her rouge, eyebrow cream, and lip color are entirely eco-friendly - they are made from flower petals and honey. The honey comes from her beehive.

Li Ziqi didn't experience a happy childhood. When she was a child, her parents got divorced and her father died soon after. So she started living with her grandparents whose lives were poor but affordable. Li Ziqi's grandfather was a cook in the village. When there was a ceremony going on, such as a wedding , a funeral or any other gathering her grandfather would be in charge of catering.

At the age of 14, when most of the kids her age went to middle school, she dropped out of school and tried to support herself and her family through hard at various jobs and was not always treated well.

Her fate was not particularly good in the initial stage of her life. She struggled considerably to survive - she starved, slept in a cave under a bridge, worked as a waitress, an electrician, and she even worked as a DJ at a nightclub. But, these hard work experiences for a young girl also helped her develop the ability to think and judge independently.

Li ZiqiTo become strong and financially independant, Li Ziqi wanted to learn new skills quickly in the city in order to return to her village with the capability to support herself and her grandmother.

In 2012, due to a family misfortune – her grandmother had developed a serious illness, Ziqi figured out what she wanted to do after being in the city working for 7 to 8 years. Her grandmother was the most important person in Ziqi’s life, so she immediately decided to give up everything and return to her hometown so that she could take full care of her grandmother.

Just like a farmer, she started work very early in the morning and returned home late - she was living an ordinary but special life in her hometown.

Being a normal young girl who was not good at singing or dancing, the idea came to her for cooking meals by gathering all the ingredients and materials from in her own yard and farmland.

At first Ziqi's videos posted on "Mepai" (a social platform in China) didn't gain much attention. But after a while a few food experts started to notice her videos. Soon the number of her fans greatly increased. Also, with the help of her fans. She put her videos on Weibo (a social platform like Twitter in China) in 2016 which received a huge amount of attention.

By 2017, Li Ziqi had become a new online celebrity in China. Ziqi, known as "The Oriental Lifestyle Foodie". Li Ziqi's works convey a positive attitude toward life. Ziqi's videos can help people fulfill their "dreams of life in the countryside."

Li ZiqiThese are the dreams of many people at home and abroad, especially Chinese people. Many people show great interest in Li Ziqi clothing. In front of the camera, she always appears in a set of Chinese Han clothing which is made in rough fabric.

Also, her videos help more people learn and understand Chinese traditions and culture. The spirit of struggling for independence and self-reliance conveyed by her life experience has attracted great attention at home and abroad.

She has been praised by many mainstream media such as the official micro-blog of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, China Daily and Sina. Her culinary chops include (but aren’t limited to) making peach blossom wine, watermelon cake, and traditional Sichuan moon treats, while a craft-styled day has her dying clothes in grape skins, making shoes for her grandmother, or building a wood-firing oven out of clay.

Her videos were initially shot by herself. She once said, "I usually put my photographic equipment before or behind me, sometimes I put them on the trees, tables or chairs to get a better result. I spent a lot of time to finish one single video."

To get more professional video. A three-people team was built on 18th May 2017. They are Li Ziqi, a "part-time" photographer and an assistant named Ming Guo who is born in 1997.

Li ZiqiThere are barely any advertisements contained in her videos. Why you ask? It’s not hard if you think about it. Because she wants to establish her own brand so that she can control the quality of her products.

This young video blogger left the city where she was DJ’ing to return to Sichuan and live with her grandmother who needed care. While there in 2016, she started making videos demonstrating traditional skills in preparing and cooking food and crafts. Her culinary skills include making peach blossom wine, watermelon cake, and traditional Sichuan moon treats, while the craft techniques include dying clothes in grape skins, making shoes for her grandmother, embroidery or building a wood-firing oven out of clay. She now employs a production team, as is evident from the quality of her videos.

She has become a Weibo phenomenon. She has 18 million followers and there are more than 40 topics about her, one of which has 720 million views and 68,000 discussions. But her fame extends beyond China and her YouTube channel has over six million followers. There’s a Weibo thread dedicated to translating the English comments on YouTube.

Garland sought some quotes from university students to understand her appeal. Here are some examples:

Yang Xin: “She is very outstanding, and I will continue to follow her.”

Li ZiqiWu JIayuan: “Li Ziqi knows so much that I always think she can show you something different in the next video, so I will always look forward to her new video. Watching her making things is a kind of enjoyment, I can see she is not only leisurely but also busy for her loving life. I find slowing down is an interesting thing from her, and I will absolutely keep following her.”

One of her followers, Li Yinghong said about her videos: “People who live in a busy world long for a simple life in nature. The little sister Li Ziqi is gentle and good-looking, and her videos make people back to a simple and interesting life. The most attractive thing to me from Ziqi is her spirit of always willing to learn."

"People can “have no idea”, but should not give up learning. Ziqi really lives out her own life with continuous progress. One issue is about her study of Shu embroidery. She has devoted herself to traditional culture. The deposit of a needle and a line represents not only prosperity but also persistence and exploration."

"Chinese zither, chess, calligraphy and painting; Chinese brush, ink, paper and inkstone; embroidery ornaments; skin embellishment; jade and porcelain; all these things are ancient gentlemen’s favourite things, which now are learned by herself step by step. I can see that her videos are really done very seriously, so I will continue to follow her surely.”

Another follower Shen Yunfeng added: “The long-term success of Li Ziqi comes from the output of excellent values and the quality of products. Li Ziqi’s rural life is exactly the concept of being out of the world and living simply advocated by Chinese people for thousands of years. In the minds of her followers, it is Li Ziqi who has fulfilled their dream of escaping from the pressure and tedious life."

"In addition, Li Ziqi actively responded to the call of cultural self-confidence and cultural renaissance and promoted the excellent traditional Chinese culture, which was supported and encouraged by the government. Her fame is not accidental but the accumulation of cultural deposits, which is a life that people yearn for but can rarely get. She lives up to the lifestyle in the poem “picking chrysanthemum under the east fence, leisurely see the south mountain” written by Tao Yuanming during the WeiJin Dynasty - She is excellent but not publicity hungry, beautiful but not commercially so.”

Li ZiqiAnd Zhao Haoyu commented: “I often watch Li Ziqi’s videos, which are a kind of idyllic poetic life of Wang Wei. The reason that I like her video is, if I lived such a life every day, thinking carefully, I could actually be bored, but her videos just fulfilled my yearning to that kind of life.

A lot of people in my hometown are now rich, having nice houses even with gardens, but they seldom live there, instead are still struggling in big cities - the countryside is great, but in a way, it reflects the monotony of life.

Every one of us has had the dream of a paradise. We have dreamed of being an immortal one day when we would have a sense of detachment between the natural mountains and rivers. Li Ziqi’s works seem to create a paradise for us.”

Finally Jiang Xiaonan observed: “Li Ziqi is really unpretentious and unworldly. Her video has not only ornamental value but also communication value. The number of broadcasts abroad has exceeded 10 million, allowing more people to understand our traditional Chinese food culture.

Each shot in the videos looks like a picture, telling us the life can turn out to be so beautiful away from the hustle and bustle of city life in the form of video. She makes videos seriously and attentively with a unique style while making her audience very relaxed. She tells us how precious the family time is, and how peaceful the quiet and simple lifestyle is.”

Li Ziqi

Li Ziqi Shop李子柒 : Li Ziqi Shop

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Bonesetters Waiting Room

In the Bonesetter's Waiting Room:
Travels Through Indian Medicine

BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week India defies definition, and the story of medicine in India is similarly rich and complex: shaped by unique challenges and opportunities, uniting cutting-edge technological developments with ancient cultural traditions, fuelled by political changes which transformed the lives of millions and moulded by the energy of forceful individuals. Here, Aarathi Prasad investigates how Indian medicine came to be the way it is. Her travels will take her to bonesetter clinics in Jaipur and Hyderabad and the waiting-rooms of Bollywood's best plastic surgeons, and introduce her to traditional healers as well as the world-beating heart surgeon who is revolutionising treatment of the poor around the globe.

Like a Virgin

LIKE A VIRGIN
Exploring the Frontiers of Conception

Sexual evolution is a slippery business. Like all mammals, we humans seem to have been left no choice in the matter: even though it is costly, inefficient and dangerous, if we want to reproduce we simply have to have sex. Yet most human cultures tell the tale of a maiden who gives birth untouched by a man; and in the wild there are plenty of creatures – such as turkeys, komodo dragons, sharks and the Jesus Christlizard (which walks on water, too) that take various approaches to reproducing without sex.

In LIKE A VIRGIN, the biology writer Aarathi Prasad discusses how reproduction without sex is achieved in animals and explores why evolution hasn't made it an option for humans yet. In doing so, she provides a quirky, entertaining and perceptive overview of the mysteries of evolutionary biology, sex and reproduction - past, present and future.

It's a remarkable story that ranges across Greek mythology, natural history, agriculture, conservation and medicine; takes in some of the most exciting areas of developmental genetics and molecular biology that other popular science books largely ignore; and is packed full of a cast of amazing characters, be they obscure animals or eccentric scientists such as the respected geneticist Dr Helen Spurway who in the UK in the 1950s unwittingly sparked a nationwide search for a virgin mother.

There is now a plethora of strategies being developed in reproductive medicine that could ultimately keep our species going in a world of embellished sex: the creation of artificial eggs and sperm from bone marrow, labs-on-chips on which eggs are fertilized, silicone wombs and artificial wombs (where fetuses can spend their full nine months), and even research to prepare us for reproduction in space. What is more, we are finally beginning to understand what genetic modifications are needed to allow for the creation of women who could have babies without having sex. Now that we have the competent hand of science in our lives, will girls still need men?

Publisher: Oneworld (UK/US)
Pub Date: 16 August 2012
Status: Draft manuscript
Length: 288 pages


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