A Sneak Peek at Hangzhou’s Folk Arts

Zhejiang’s Provincial Department of Culture has just released the 2016 list of Zhejiang’s Provincial Folk Culture Art Homes, and Hangzhou has nine categories that have been included. 

Folk Activities:

Filial Piety Culture

Hangzhou Filial Piety Culture Theme Museum

Filial piety, illustrated by the Chinese character xiao (孝), is a virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders and ancestors. Ding Lan Street in the Jianggan District of Hangzhou has, since ancient times, been the hometown of Filial Piety and is also the venue where one of the famous Twenty-four Stories about Filial Piety took place.
Inside the Qiantao (Thousand-Plum) Garden stands Hangzhou’s first filial piety culture themed museum which showcases a wealth of historical relics and folk culture.

“Spring of Grand Canal” Lantern Display

"Spring Of Grand Canal" Folk Culture Week

The “Spring of Grand Canal” lantern display in Gongshu District has, since the olden times, been a significant folk activity in the Gongchen Bridge and Hushu Area. To date, it has been held, consecutively, for 21 years. Every year, the lantern display centers on different themes, integrating a number of other folk culture activities.

Heshang Dragon Lantern Pageant

Heshang Dragon Lantern Pageant

Heshang Bench Dragon in Xiaoshan District of Hangzhou is a folk dance performance that originated from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and is performed every Spring Festival. Heshang Dragon Lantern Pageant focuses mainly on the bench dragon performance and is enhanced with other folk art elements for example, the horse lantern. In 2014, Heshang Dragon Boat Pageant was included onto the list of national intangible culture heritages.

Shen’ao Middle-Air Lion Performance

Shen'ao Middle-Air Lion Performance

The performance of Shen’ao Middle-Air Lion in Jiangnan Town, Tonglu County of Hangzhou, stemmed from the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1711-1799) and was a product of local temple fairs. Mid-Air Lion Performance is performed in the form of marionettes and has already been inscribed as a provincial-level, municipal-level and county-level intangible culture heritage.

Performing Arts:

Xixi Ya Mu Lian Opera

Xixi Ya Mu Lian Opera

Xixi Ya Mu Lian Opera (西溪哑目连戏) is an ancient opera that prevailed in Xixi. The opera has no lines and relies solely on dancing, gestures and expressions to show the characteristics of the characters and its plot. The opera has been selected to perform for multiple times as a representative of one of Hangzhou’s intangible cultural heritages and has received a wealth of warm applauses.

Lou Ta Xi Shi Fan
Lou Ta Xi Shi Fan (楼塔细十番) in Xiaoshan District of Hangzhou is a folk music that first appeared over 600 years ago in the Ming Dynasty. It was produced to express people’s wishes for a smooth year and a better life.  In the early days, Lou Ta Xi Shi Fan exists in oral form and was passed down by word of mouth. It’s not until the late Qing Dynasty that its form was fixed and was performed in the form of three song cycles. (A song cycle is a group, or cycle, of individually complete songs designed to be performed in a sequence as a unit.) In 2008, it was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage.

Yuhang Gun Deng

Yuhang Gun Deng (余杭滚灯) was established in the Wengmei area of Yuhang District, Hangzhou. It has a history of over 800 years and differs from the previous folk arts in that it combines sport and dance, focusing on expressing the beauty of strength and gracefulness. It was inscribed in the first group of national intangible cultural heritages in 2006.

Yueju Opera
Yueju Opera (超剧) in Xindeng Town, Fuyang District, Hangzhou, is also a national intangible culture heritage and a household name in Xindeng. Seventy-five percent of Xindeng’s residents are engaged in the opera and there are now four folk Yueju opera teams in Xindeng, and the people’s government of Xindeng Town plans to invest a further 1,000,000 RMB annually to ensure the development of its folk culture and art.

Chun’an Triangle Opera
Chun’an Triangle Opera (淳安三角戏), also called Muju Opera, is named for the fact that in the olden days the performance only had three characters. It is one of Zhejiang’s local operas and has a history spanning more than 100 years. The opera is characterized for its simplicity and witty touches and was inscribed in 2005 as one of Zhejiang’s intangible cultural heritages.