TEHRAN, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- "My painting is both about modern China and traditional China," 13-year-old Mahshid Ghasemi said on Wednesday when introducing her work, which won the first prize in the first China-themed painting competition for Iranian children and teenagers.
The contest, jointly organized by the Chinese Embassy in Iran and Iran's Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (Kanoon), was divided into two age groups, and received 427 paintings from young people across Iran. Each group was awarded one first prize, two second prizes, and three third prizes.
An award ceremony and the opening ceremony of the drawing exhibition were held on Wednesday. The works showcased at the exhibition feature iconic elements of Chinese culture, such as red lanterns, the Great Wall, and dragons, demonstrating Iranian children's imagination and thinking about China.
Ghasemi, from Isfahan province, said she used a dragon, fans, and ancient buildings to depict the traditional part of China with red as the main color and illustrated scenes of Chinese people celebrating the Lunar New Year.
Meanwhile, in the modern China part, she focuses on China's skyscrapers and urban development, and there are also celebratory farmers, representing the country's progress in poverty alleviation.
Ghasemi said that she is very interested in China, through movies, documentaries, and other ways to learn about China, which explains the complicated image in her painting.
Mehrnaz Tolouei, the first prize winner in the 7-11 age group, painted a scene of ancient Persians trading with the Chinese on the ancient Silk Road routes, an idea inspired by his father, Mahmoud Tolouei.
"The ancient Silk Road connected China and Iran," he said, "the two countries today enjoy a friendly relationship and their cultures should be reunited again to reconnect" through these routes.
Chinese Ambassador to Iran Chang Hua said that people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Iran have become increasingly close and active, further deepening mutual understanding and traditional friendship between the two peoples.
This year's competition demonstrates Iranian youth's longing for China and their expectation for the continuance of China-Iran traditional friendship, Chang said, expressing his hope that the contest will serve as a starting point to further sow the seeds of friendship between the young people of the two countries so that China-Iran friendship will be passed on from generation to generation.
Noting that Iranian literary and artistic works contain a lot of Chinese stories and elements, Hamed Alamati, Kanoon's general manager, said that his institute stands ready to work with the Chinese embassy to further bolster the exchanges between the young people of the two countries with painting, a common artistic language of mankind, and constantly enhance their mutual understanding.
Such efforts will "add new strength to the long-standing friendly exchanges between the two countries," Alamati added.