Tongcao paintings have great value since they reflect the social and government affairs in the old times.
Home-sharing app works with local authorities to give unique experiences to travelers
Zhou Ying was giving instructions to a tableful of adults who were making tongcao paintings in southern Guangdong province in early June.
They all seemed to take great care to draw each line and brush colors under Zhou's guidance.
Polychromatic human and animal portraits then took shape vividly on the milky paper, which was made of a local plant tetrapanax papyriferus.
Tongcao painting was named an intangible cultural heritage by the Guangzhou's Yuexiu district government in 2015.
"I'm glad so many 'big friends' would take this much interest in the art," says Zhou, who has engaged in tongcao painting development for more than a decade.
It's the first time that Zhou and her team opened themselves up to the public via the home-sharing platform Airbnb.
"We've launched our products on Airbnb to inherit and publicize the art form, since many people of the younger generations are using the platform at the moment," Zhou says.
Zhou and her team are all primary schoolteachers from Yuexiu district of Guangdong's capital Guangzhou.
Most of their students are locals between 4 and 16 years old.
"The paintings have great value since they reflected the social and government affairs in the old times," she says.
The paintings were mainly exported to the outside world in the 18th and 19th centuries and featured such social scenes as government official portrait, textile making and art performance in late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
They were quite a hit among the Westerners for showcasing Chinese elements via Western painting theories.
Unlike most papers made of pulp, the tongcao painting paper was directly cut from plants.
"It asks for good skills to ensure each piece is smooth and consistently in the right thickness," Zhou explains.
One of the charms about the painting is that the paper is durable enough to allow artists to do art creations and repairs several times.
"Moreover, when you see the final works under the light, they take a three-dimensional form," she says.
Zhou is among an increasing number of art masters who are embracing opportunities to show their arts to a wider audience.
To date, more than 50 Chinese intangible cultural heritages are available for visitor experience at Airbnb, the company reports.
They cover traditional handicraft, tea art, pottery, gourmet food, opera, kung fu, board games, calligraphy and painting in major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Sichuan province's capital Chengdu.
About 30 of them are world-class, and the total number of intangible cultural heritage experiences is expected to double this year, says Peng Tao, president of Airbnb China