So what is 'intangible cultural heritage?' The multifaceted soul of a district

Jing'an District is boast of many time-honored brands that are considered the "intangible cultural heritage."
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

LONGFENG cheongsam

The cheongsam began as a loosely-fitted, straight-line dress worn by Manchu women. It underwent an evolution in the early 1900s, when the melting pot of Shanghai turned it into a body-hugging, one-piece dress. The modern version of the cheongsam displays modesty, gentleness and elegance, retaining its charm as a stylish expression of Chinese femininity.

Longfeng is the revered brand name in Shanghai cheongsams.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

“Longfeng was formerly called Zhushunxing, a small tailoring shop built in 1936,” said Zhu Hongsheng, a famous master of the creation. “The name was changed in 1959 upon its merger with three other venerable cheongsam dressmaking shops.”

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Longfeng retains its high-profile status by ensuring that the cloth and tailoring suit the age, lifestyle and personality of each customer. A fitting includes the measurement of 36 parts of the body. The brand continues to use its unique skills in making buttons called pankou, or frog fasteners.

Its store on Shaanxi Road N. offers clients off-the-rack dresses or tailor-made cheongsam.

Ti Gong

Lu’an inkpads

The famous Lu’an inkpad used to make seals may not be a household necessity in the lives of most people, but for artists, it’s a highly prized possession.

The inkpad was designated for heritage preservation in 2008.

The Lu’an inkpad was invented by pharmacist Zhang Lu’an at the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is made of oil, cinnabar and processed mugwort grass.

The inkpad quickly gained a reputation for reproducing bright colors that didn’t fade quickly, making it popular among painters and calligraphers like Zhang Daqian, Wu Hufan and He Tianjian.

“Zhang Lu’an never worried about costs,” said Gao Shixiong, a modern-day master of the old art. “He tested variations of the inkpad thousands of times, and that’s why it’s been such a success. Almost all contemporary masterpieces in the Shanghai Museum collection have seals made by Lu’an inkpads.”


Yuefenpai, or “calendar poster,” is an art genre prevalent in Shanghai during the early 20th century.

The posters, featuring ladies with plump faces, slender waists and generous hips, conveyed the message of open-minded, independent and brave women. They dramatically changed the public perception of feminine beauty.

The paintings on the posters were influenced by Western advertisements. In 1914, painter Zheng Mantuo perfected a special painting technique known as rub-and-paint, in which carbon was rubbed into the paper to create shadows, and watercolor pigments were added to create soft, muted colors.

The application was perfect for rendering the image of the modern women, taking Yuefenpai beyond a simple marketing style into a distinct art genre.

In 1920, another yuefenpai master, Hang Zhiying, opened a salon in the old Zhabei District. He began to model his paintings on movie stars, blending Western skills of advertising designs and cartoons.

His son, Hang Shiming, is now an inheritor of the art form.

Ti Gong


Kaisiling, formerly known as the New Kiessling Cafe, was the first Chinese-run Western-style restaurant in Shanghai. It opened in 1928.

Kaisiling pastries became the talk of the town after pastry chef Ling Qingxiang and his two sons joined the staff.

Ti Gong

The pastries were mostly based on recipes Ling learned while working in a German restaurant. They have been passed down through the years without any changes.

To make 120 kilograms of Kaisiling’s signature chestnut cream cake requires 100 kilograms of chestnuts, 20 kilograms of sugar, 4 kilograms of eggs and 5 grams of vanillin, essential constituent of vanilla.

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