Young Vlogger Tells Story of China in Picturesque Videos

Author:Gu Xin December 12, 2019

Vlogger Li Ziqi [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


Picture a young woman, dressed in traditional Chinese attire made from hemp, as she picks flowers from a field to make a natural blush for her cheeks. Imagine the same person, assembling a sofa from bamboo, brewing soy sauce from scratch and cooking up all sorts of delicious Chinese food.

It may sound surreal, but such a person exists in real life, and her name is Li Ziqi.

Li, a vlogger who enjoys a fan base of more than 21 million people on Sina Weibo and 7 million strong followers on YouTube, has made a name for herself in her videos that highlight a traditional Chinese way of life in the rural areas of Sichuan Province. Her videos cover a wide variety of crafts related to traditional Chinese culture. From making paper and ink to weaving cloth, from making a silk quilt comforter for her grandmother to building her own bread kiln with blocks, nothing seems impossible with Li's crafty hands as they work their magic to bring these things into existence.

But Li's most eye-catching, and mouth-watering craft is cooking.

A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


Li scarcely speaks in her videos. When she does open her mouth, the most common phrase that comes out is her calling her grandmother to come and eat.

Instead of dialogue, Li focuses on how she works with her hands.

Scenes of the young vlogger picking seasonal ingredients from her own garden (and sometimes in the mountains and rivers near her residence) and turning them into luscious dishes on her wood-fired wok dominate her videos. A warm bowl of soup for the winter, a lighter plate of noodles for the summer. Li emphasizes the seasons in her cooking, as China's traditional 24 Solar Terms also do, and makes food suitable for the particular climate.

All this is done against a picturesque panorama of the four seasons beautiful enough to be featured in films.

Watching her videos, it is difficult not to appreciate their beauty and hold back that sense of nostalgia and longing for home. But it is even harder to not want to take a bite of her succulent dishes.

Li Ziqi (R) and her grandmother [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


Cynic food critic Anton Ego in Ratatouille was immediately brought back to his childhood after he took a bite of Remy's humble masterpiece. And it is true that the taste of home is almost unforgettable. Brewing soy sauce, steaming sweet buns, sun-drying persimmon cakes and pickling vegetables, every scene is delicate and gentle, reminding viewers of taste of our childhood and home.

"My heart warmed up as I watched her flip soybeans in the video for making soy sauce. I was really moved. I used to do this kind of work when I was young," comments Weibo user July of Jiangnan.

A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


"Li Ziqi is not made without passion. Without passion, you cannot understand Li Ziqi," the official Sina Weibo account of China Central Television comments on the Sichuan native's sensational popularity around the world.

"The success of Li Ziqi lies in her passion — passion for life, for her home and for her culture. She does not say much, but she told the stories of China's culture and that of China," the television station added in its post, which has been read by more than 11 million internet users.

Li Ziqi (R) and her grandmother [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


Li, who was born in 1990, has been living with her grandparents in the rural parts of Mianyang, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, since the age of 6 after her father died. Li has always been crafty with her hands, having helped with her grandfather's carpentry and grandmother's housekeeping from a tender age.

Life was difficult for her during her youth as she and her grandparents had little to live on. Li herself revealed that she was "economically supported" to continue schooling. She started to work in the city at 14 and would not have returned to her childhood home if not for her grandmother falling ill in 2012.

After returning home, Li opened an online shop, Li Ziqi, to sell mostly edible products. To boost sales, she began making short films in 2016 about how these products were created, while covering her life in the rural area, all against the backdrop of traditional Chinese aesthetics.

"I started it because I wanted to create something for people to watch and relax. We are all under a lot of stress. I hoped that after a long and busy day, they could click on my videos and relieve some of their anxiety and pressure," Li said.

But her videos did more than that. Viewers from both home and abroad are hooked.

"Who else is happy whenever she uploads?" reads a comment by YouTube viewer Ira Shayne.

A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


"She uses things that are common in life, but I never gave any thoughts on where those things came from. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to get to know them better!" write Sina Weibo user Qin Fengqin.

"She's a gift from heaven," comments YouTube user Jill Hoola.

"I just discovered your videos last month and I'm hooked. Thank you for your inspiring and relaxing videos," writes YouTube user Odessa Villareal.

Her latest video on brewing soy sauce, uploaded on YouTube on December 4, has received more than 3.4 million views in less than a week. The same video drew more than 35 million views on Sina Weibo.

Li is not without criticism, such as remarks about her "beautifying" life in the country and her use of a professional production crew to help her film. Others have expressed skepticism about how "real" her videos are, and how "amazing it is that she looks so picture perfect after a long day of work in the fields."

A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]


A scene from Li Ziqi's video [Sina Weibo account of Li Ziqi]




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