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CCTV drama series recalls China’s tung oil era

(Photo: CCTV)

A television drama series that revisits the prosperous era of tung oil – once a major Chinese export – is airing on Central China Television (CCTV).

The series Yi Dai Hong Shang (Era of the Businessmen in Hongjiang) spans more than 100 years culminating in the Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945, the China Daily newspaper reports.

It centres on the prosperous tung oil business in the central province of Hunan. An extract from tung tree nuts, the oil was widely used as an important material to prevent the bottoms of ships from rotting and was prized by foreign traders for centuries.

Based on real-life figures, the series on CCTV-8 chronicles the legendary stories of two tung oil tycoons and their family businesses.

It was filmed in Hongjiang, the historic city at the confluence of the Yuanjiang and Wujiang rivers, which made it the only passage for transportation between the west and east of China. The crew built replicas of an ancient port, dozens of ships and tung oil mills.

The series began airing on 27 March. It stars veteran actors Zhang Fengyi and Lee Li-chun as the two tung oil tycoons, with other major characters played by Zhang Rui and Zhang Hanyun as well as veterans Ding Haifeng and Niu Li.