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Factfile
Located in the south of Hubei, known as "the South Gate of Hubei", Xianning has great renown for “Chibi old haunt of the Three Kingdoms, inland nuclear power city”, which has great advantages of its "mountain", "water" "geography","location","culture","scenery","energy"and the trend of development. Xianning is a suitable place to do ...[more]
location
Xianning City, attached to Hubei Province, known as “the southern gateway to Hubei”, is famous for sweet-scented os... [more]
Administrative divisions
Lying in the southeast of Hubei Province, along the south bank of the Yangtze River, and at the junction of Hunan, Hu... [more]
History
 Despite the late administrative construction of Xianning (prefecture-level city), the counties and urban districts under its administration all have a long history. The territory of today’s Xianning belonged to Jing Chu in the Xia and Shang Dynasties ( about 2200-1100 BC), Nan County in the Qin Dynasty(221-206 BC ), [more]
The Picturesque Scenery of Southern Hubei has Nurtured the Miracle of Folk Customs
http://English.xianning.gov.cn 09-11-06
 

  Reported by Liu Huiwen (www.xnnews.com.cn

  Xianning is located in middle reaches of the Yangtze River in southern Hubei. It is the nationally well-known hometown of sweet-scented osmanthus, bamboo, tea, ramie and hot spring. For its superior location, the local economy has been rapidly developing.

  The long history and culture of southern Hubei has nurtured broad and profound folk arts. In Xianning, walking in the streets of the city or lingering in the field of the village, you can both feel the enjoyment brought by the folk. The folk song and drum in Tong Shan County, the theatre played by Chinese ancient stringed violin in Chongyang County, the instruments with the toot-toot sound in Jiayu County and the drum with footbaths shape in Chibi city are included in the provincial intangible cultural heritage.

  Chongyang Tiqin Drama

  Tiqin Drama is the “home theater” of rural people in Tongcheng and Chongyang with the most cordial feeling. According to legend, it was formed by the spreading of the Linxiang Flower Drum (Yueyang Flower Drum now). It was the offshoot of Liangshan tune systems. The main tune is sung with “buzzing jean” accompaniment. In order to distinguish it from the local theater of flower drum with the gong chamber, people called it “Tiqin Drama”. The name has been used since the late Qing Dynasty.

  From about 1885 to 1889, Hunan artistes Jiang Chuanyu, Peng Ruisheng had successively led troupes to Chongyang to perform the theatre. Finally, Peng settled in Chongyang and passed on his crafts. From the end era of Emperor Guangxu to the early time of the Republic of China, the famous troupe “Sanqiu Troupe” from Linxiang County had stayed in the area of Chong Yang and Tongcheng for a long term. They had brought the theatre’s name “Tiqin Drama” and the local drama arts back to Hu Nan. The 76-year-old Linxiang drum artist Zeng Jiyu said that without the troupe “Sanqiu Troupe”, the Linxiang people would just sing the “Siping Tune”, “ditty” and the Daoban (a beat pattern used for sad, melancholic scenes in traditional Chinese opera) .The theatre The West Chamber, Meng Jiangnu Cried the Great Wall, Yang Tiangu’s Practice and Cai Mingfeng Abandoned the Tavern, were all brought back to Linxiang  from Chongyang by the troupe “Sanqiu Troupe”, The Linxiang artist Fang Gangsheng also said that before “Sanqiu Troupe”, there were no dramas such as Song Jiang Kills Yan Poxi, Xuemei Teaches the Child, Force the Child to Herd Sheep , Quit Pen and Go to Business, Bathe in the Pond. We sang the high-pitched tune while Chongyang and Tongcheng sang the “Tiqin Drama”.

  During the period of the Republic of China, a trend of learning and performing was formed in the area of Tongcheng and Chongyang. A few years after the founding of People’s Republic of China, Chongyang County alone had more than 70 village classes of “Tiqin Drama”.

  The folk song and drums of Tongshan County

  With its specific geographical environment, Tongshan County has formed the Tongshan people's unique traditional folk culture—the folk song and drum.

  The folk song, also named the woodcutter song, was sung by the local people from generation to generation in the unique accent and dialects. Its vocal style was abundant with high-pitched tune folk song, flat tune folk song, tearful folk song, twisting song, and Tongue Twister. Folk drum is a folk song with the accompaniment of beating the drum. Thongshan has much land but few people. When busy farming time comes, people freely combine to collective labor. During the work, people encourage the workers by biting the drum. The drum is called “digging drum” in the mountain working and the “planting drum” in the Paddy field.The sound is crisp with free rhythm. The mountain is covered with drums and folk songs, presenting a buzz labor scene.

  Tongshan people have the tradition of singing the folk songs while biting the drum. According to The Tongshan County Annual (In EmperorsTongzhi’s Reign of the Qing Dynasty ), “The bright moonlight suffuses the mountain way and the bridge, the fishermen and the woodcutters sing the folk songs when the sound of the drum and the bell of the temple rising.” The woodcutters’ songs refer to the folk songs while the drums refer to the “planting drum”.

  After the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, the folk song, drum and other folk arts have been developed. In recent years, Tongshan has appeared the upsurge of learning the folk songs and drums. That has promoted the county’s construction of “two civilization”. In 2006, Xianning City announced the first batch of 13 city-level “intangible cultural heritage”, five folk customs including the folk song and drum were on the list. Recently, Tongshan drum (weeding gongs and drums) and Legend of Lee Chuangwang were announced as the first provincial “non-material cultural heritage” by the provincial people’s government.

  Now, the county has more than 260 folk song associations and folk groups. There are more than 34,000 farmers pursuing folk songs and become “die-hard” fans.

  Jiayu Wudu (a kind of musical instrument)

  In 476 BC of the Spring and Autumn Period, The Book of Songs told a story: “The emperor had a trip to the south by boat and saw fishes jumping out of the rive river, he ordered people to cook the fish and had a taste. After the tasting, he praised and said ‘good fish, good fish’. Because the Homophonic sound, people named the place “Jiayu”. The “Mud Whistles” with a fish-shaped were handed down from the ancient times. It was said to be taken from the folk totem and had the sense of the gift to the county. According to The Jiayu County Annual, the “Mud Whistle” called Wudu in ancient times, was created by the shepherd boy in the period of Three Kingdoms and improved continuously through years. Subsequently, it was popular in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

  The instrument—Wudu was made by the soil and the fish-shape was hollow. The front side had 10 holes while the back side had one, which could blow mellow and long sound. Its sound could be mellow, deep, melodious and simple. When it sounds quiet, people might calm down like water. But when it is high-pitched, people might be excited following the tune. In 2007, it was classified as the first batch of intangible cultural heritage of Hubei Province.

  In 1992, Wudu was highly praised in the third China Art Festival. Furthermore, it has been played by many foreigners during the national art troupe visit.

  Wudu, the initial human sound, not only plays music, but is also widely loved by Cultural Museums, collectors and traveling enthusiasts, it has become one of the most characteristics of art collection and ancient musical instruments.

  Xian’an “holds a memorial ceremony for Chang’e -- the Goddess in the moon”

  “Seeds of the Osmanthus trees fall down from the moon, while the aroma of the Buddha incense floats to the sky”. Xian’an District is the core region of the Xianning sweet-scented osmanthus with profound culture. According to the written records, Xian’an has a history of more than 2000 years planting the sweet-scented osmanthus and 300 years of processing the fresh flower. In 2000, State Forestry Bureau and China Flower Association officially named Xian’an District as “Hometown of Chinese Osmanthus”.

  According to historical research, Xian’an was the meeting-place of Chu culture, Wu and Yue cultures. The Changer legend coming from the north puts down roots in Xian’an, and it continues to multiply and develop.

  Legend of the Eastern Jin Dynasty said that on one Mid-Autumn Festival, Xian’an was serious drought. Seeing the osmanthus trees are difficult to flowering and harvesting, the hopeless farmers turned to the taoist priest Ge Hong, who lived in the local Mingshui Spring of the Guabang mountain. The Taoist mourned farmers’ difficultly and guided the villagers to worship the moon. So the local people of all ages and both sexes, in a full-moon night, “kept the Moonlight” and “offered Changer”, prayed for rain for a good harvest. Later, the action gradually evolved into a fixed custom. So every flower harvest Eve, mostly in August fifteen, on the night when the moon was round, worshiping of months was hosted by the oldest chairman, for acknowledging Changer’s sending of osmanthus to the earth and guaranteeing a good harvest year.

  The “Moonlight” customs was corresponded with the traditional Chinese festival “Mid-Autumn Festival” in time. As folklore had been changed and developed, “the Mid-Autumn festival” had become the most geographical and cultural characteristic festival.

  In August 2009, after inspecting and council, the Expert Group on Literature and Art Association of Hubei Province believed that Xianning City had the conditions for title of provincial “cultural village”, because in Xian’an District, the folk culture, the Changer culture and local literature, cultural relics, folk customs confirmed and complemented each other with comprehensive distribution and abundant quantity. Officially, Xian’an District of Xianning City was awarded the title of “Chang’e cultural village”.


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