Living Life as a Poem, the Traditional Maker Ziqi Li

Firewood bed, silk blanket… a visit to Ziqi Li’s channel is a trip back in time a hundred years ago when people made everything for themselves.

Traditionally made delicacies

Ziqi Li brings her viewers a variety of traditionally made delicacies. In most cooking videos, the cook uses ingredients they have already prepared. That’s not how Li does it. If she wants to eat beef noodles, first she makes the dough; if she wants steamed ribs with glutinous rice, first she picks lotus leaves.
Screenshot from Ziqi Li’s YouTube video (这绝对是一碗艺术 : 素有面食文化活化石之称的正宗兰州牛肉面)

Living each season to the fullest

However, she can do a lot more. Each season is unique, but as city dwellers we forgot long ago how to listen to the sounds of nature. Li is different. She is from the Sichuan mountains, where for years she had to do everything herself, which is why she knows all about craft. In spring, she picked flowers to make rouge; in summer, she chopped bamboo to make a couch; in the fall, she picked persimmons for drying; and in winter, she built an earth oven. Her hands, seen close up, aren’t “ladylike” but strong. With these hands, she easily chops wood and performs whatever other tasks she needs to pursue her dreams.
Li’s strong hands help her pursue her dreams. Screenshot from Ziqi Li’s YouTube video (为生活添一抹淡雅绿意,用砍下的竹子制些物件儿——竹沙发)

Living maker life to the fullest

Li has tried to reproduce by herself old inventions like movable type printing and paper. She once made the ultimate traditional paper from scratch using mulberry bark, and she has also carved messages into wood, made prints and sent them. Every word made through traditional methods has so much more depth to it.
In the comment sections to her videos, many people say she is living their dream life.
Many commenters say Li is living their dream life. Screenshot from Ziqi Li’s YouTube video (能遮阳挡雨的秋千长啥样?用木头沙发床给你们做一个瞧瞧)
Everybody has dreamed about leaving the city and moving to the mountains. A life of self-sufficiency is the best. However, living in a rural area is not easy. Li mentions in interviews and on her weibo that she is nothing like how she seems in her videos. Off camera, she is always doing chores that get her really dirty, and there are many boring aspects of farming life she does not show her viewers: pest control, pruning and sowing, to name a few.

Controversy, then better content

Li’s unique videos got her a lot of attention, but inevitably also accusations and criticism. Many people questioned the authenticity of her videos and tried to spy on her in various ways, even harassing her and her grandmother. This disturbed Li so much that for a while she had to stop creating content. On the bright side, the controversy also led to her landing a new job opportunity. During her hiatus, she put a new team together and signed a contract that effectively turns her into a brand so that she can keep doing what she does. Her traditional lifestyle also came to the attention of the Beijing Palace Museum, who wanted to collaborate with her on a promotion of the famous Suzao sauce (蘇造醬).
Screenshot from Ziqi Li’s YouTube video (How to make a Chinese secret sauce? 宫廷苏造酱,娘娘吃了都说好)
At the end of the day, Li has created a beautiful fantasy that we can all enjoy. When you watch her videos, do they make you feel like living such a life? Let’s all use our creativity to live our own perfect life.

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