by Rebekah Mintzer
UNITED NATIONS, April 19 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations marked the Chinese Language Day here Thursday with a series of special activities designed to celebrate the richness of Chinese language and culture.
"It is fair to say that UN Chinese Language Day events have used the Chinese language as a media to bring together people of different language backgrounds and races," said Li Baodong, the permanent representative of China to the United Nations, in a speech at a ceremony marking the day.
Chinese is one of the six official languages of the world body along with French, Spanish, Russian, English and Arabic. The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) introduced language days in 2010 to celebrate each official language and encourage cultural diversity and mutual understanding.
"Since 2010, the United Nations has successfully held two annual Chinese Language Day celebrations," said Li. "In the previous events, Chinese painting and calligraphy exhibitions, book fairs, lectures on the Chinese culture, and art performance were launched, which offered the UN community an opportunity to have a better understanding of the beauty, simplicity, and profoundness of Chinese, a language that dates back to ancient times."
The celebration is held around the same time in April each year to honor Cang Jie, the ancient Chinese mythical figure credited with inventing Chinese characters.
Many events were held at the United Nations on Thursday to celebrate UN Chinese Language Day. One event was a performance by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Health Qigong is a form of physical activity deeply rooted in Chinese history and culture.
"Health Qigong is practiced by more than one million people from across China," said Wang Lan, deputy director in charge of Qigong and health in China's General Administration of Sport. "It is also very popular in other parts of the world, with practitioners from more than 30 countries and regions in the world."
Wang added that the celebration of UN Chinese Language Day is an "auspicious occasion" as it allows Chinese culture to be shared with people from all over the world.
Another event held to honor the day was a demonstration of Nvshu (women's script), a rare Chinese syllabic script used exclusively amongst women in Shangjiangxu town of Jiangyong County and the surrounding area in southern Hunan Province, central China. The demonstration took place simultaneously with a lecture on the history and significance of the script, which is no longer used by many people.
"My daughter and I came together and are very proud because this script is part of Chinese and Asian culture and also part of the non-material heritage of China," said He Jinghua who conducted the Nvshu demonstration along with her daughter, Pu Lijuan.
The two displayed intricate Nvshu designs painted on paper and embroidered into fans and handkerchiefs. They also sang traditional Chinese songs associated with Nvshu.
Other events included art exhibitions of Chinese calligraphy and a lecture as well as musical performances, including a dance presentation by Colors of the Wind, a group based in the New York City borough of Queens that performs traditional Chinese-style dances.
Wearing the traditional Chinese qipao outfits, the group performed a fan dance as well as a cheongsam dance.
"We want to help people know that China has a deep foundation of culture," Bilin Yang, a member of Colors of the Wind, told Xinhua.