Quyi: one of China’s older performing arts helping preserve ethnic history and culture

March 5, 2014

As one of the older performing arts in China, Quyi—developed during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD) and flourished in the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279)—is rooted in China’s history and culture.

Chinese Quyi focuses on how the “Body Talks”, and it’s mostly a spoken performance from one to four people. Don’t confuse it with Chinese opera.

During a performance, the actors pay attention to the use of the hands, eyes, body and step.  The focus of this performing art consists of narrative storytelling using staged monologues and dialogues.

Hand gestures are used to present the story’s plot while the eyes are the most important part of a Quyi performance. The eyes show anger, sorrow and joy. Using the eyes to dramatize the story is an art in itself.

Since there are different schools of Quyi, the hand, eyes, body and steps are used differently from school to school.

There are fifty-six minorities in China and minority produced Quyi is often subtly different from what the Han majority produces.

For instance, Chinese ethnic minorities use mostly their own languages or dialects for the performances often singing the dialogue. In fact, it’s been an important performing art for preserving the history and culture of many ethnic groups. (The Quyi of Ethnic Minority Groups in China)

In fact, since Quyi is a vital part of China’s minority culture, soon after the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, the Chinese Quyi Association was organized. Today, more than 3,500 members belong to an association that publishes Quyi Magazine.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


From China to India for Enlightenment

February 19, 2013

I mentioned Hsuan-tsang (Xuanzang) when I wrote about China’s Three “Journeys to the West”. However, in that post I did not go into detail about the real Buddhist monk who made the journey.

While doing some research about his life, I discovered an intellectual discussion at Philosophy and Marxism Today.  If this topic interests you and you want to learn more about Buddhism I recommend reading this conversation between Thomas Riggins and Fred.

Thomas starts with, “I’ll start with background based on Chan’s introductory remarks.

“Hsuan-tsang (596-644) was quite a character. He entered a Buddhist monastery when he was thirteen. Then moved around China studying under different masters. Finally, he went off to India to study Buddhism at its source and with Sanskrit masters.

“He spent over ten years in India, wrote a famous book about his journey, and returned to China with over six hundred original manuscripts.

“He spent the rest of his life with a group of translators rendering seventy five of the most important works into Chinese. All of this work was sponsored by the Emperor of the newly established T’ang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD).”

The book I have on Hsuan-tsang says he lived from 602 to 664 AD.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Yue – 9,000 years old

January 8, 2013

Music in China is traditionally associated with ritual observances and government affairs.

In 1999, Chinese archeologists unearthed what is believed to be the oldest know playable instrument, a seven-holed flute fashioned 9,000 years ago from the hollow wing bone of a large bird.

To establish the age, a U.S. chemist at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory analyzed data from carbon-14 dating done in China on materials taken from the site.

The 9,000-year-old flutes were “exquisitely-crafted” from the wing bone of a red-crowned crane.


Music from the Book of Songs

In The Book of Songs, an ancient collection of Chinese poetry from the 6th century BC, the three-hole Yue is the most frequently mentioned wind instrument, but by the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD), the Yue had all but vanished.  Source: China Daily

Discover more with The Hsiao (Xiao) – Chinese Flute

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Chinese Poetry during the Tang Dynasty

October 22, 2012

The Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD) is regarded as one of the most prosperous times in China’s long history.

It was also the golden age of Chinese art and literature.

Crossing the Han River
Song Zhi-wen (656 – 712 AD)

No news, no letters – all winter, all spring —
     Beyond the mountains.
With every homeward step more timid still
I dare not even inquire of passerby
.

Song Zhi-wen, the poet, was found guilty of accepting bribes and executed. He had good reason to fear returning home from exile.


In this video is a famous Tang poem.

The classical form of Chinese poetry developed in the late Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and reached its peak during the Tang Dynasty.

Most Tang poems have four or eight lines, with five and seven Chinese characters in each line following certain rules.

Another example of Tang Dynasty poetry is Spring Perspective by Du Fu (712 – 770 AD).

When the post of prime minister was awarded to a cousin of the imperial concubine, there was the military rebellion of An Lu–shan in 755 AD.

The nation has fallen, the land endures
Spring trees and grasses flourish in the town.
Troubled by the times — flowers bring tears;
Dreading parting — birds startle the soul.

With turmoil of battle three months on end,
A letter from home is worth a fortune in gold.
As it is, they can barely hold a pin.

This poem demonstrates what happens when the Chinese people get tired of nepotism and corruption, which should be heeded as a warning today to crack down on corruption in Communist China.

The next poem is one of many that Yuan Zhen (779 – 831 AD) wrote for his dead wife, who he married when he was poor. She did not live long enough to share his fame and fortune.

In former years, we chatted carelessly of death and what it means
     to die.
Since then, it’s passed before my very eyes.
I’ve given almost all your clothes away
But cannot bear to move your sewing things.
Remembering your past attachments, I’ve been kind to maids you
     loved.
I’ve met your soul in dreams and ordered sutras sung.
Certainly, I know this sorrow comes to all
But to poor and lowly couples, everything life brings is sad.

See Mao Zedong, the Poet

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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TABOO IS THE NEW NORMAL

October 1, 2012

A review of “Behind the Red Door” by Richard Burger
Review by Tom Carter

Among the many misimpressions westerners tend to have of China, sex as some kind of taboo topic here seems to be the most common, if not clichéd.  Forgetting for a moment that, owing to a population of 1.3 billion, somebody must be doing it, what most of us don’t seem to know is that, at several points throughout the millennia, China has been a society of extreme sexual openness.

And now, according to author Richard Burger’s new book Behind the Red Door, the Chinese are once again on the verge of a sexual revolution.

Best known for his knives-out commentary on The Peking Duck, one of China’s longest-running expat blogs, Burger takes a similar approach to surveying the subject of sex among the Sinae, leaving no explicit ivory carving unexamined, no raunchy ancient poetry unrecited, and, ahem, no miniskirt unturned.

Opening (metaphorically and literally) with an introduction about hymen restoration surgery, Burger delves dàndàn-deep into the olden days of Daoism, those prurient practitioners of free love who encouraged multiple sex partners as the ultimate co-joining of Yin and Yang.  Promiscuity, along with prostitution, flourished during the Tang Dynasty – recognized as China’s cultural zenith – which Burger’s research surmises is no mere coincidence.

Enter the Yuan Dynasty, and its conservative customs of Confucianism, whereby sex became regarded only “for the purpose of producing heirs.”  As much as we love to hate him, Mao Zedong is credited as single-handedly wiping out all those nasty neo-Confucius doctrines, including eliminating foot binding, forbidding spousal abuse, allowing divorce, banning prostitution (except, of course, for Party parties), and encouraging women to work.  But in typical fashion, laws were taken too far; within 20 years, China under Mao became a wholly androgynous state.

We then transition from China’s red past into the pink-lit present, whence prostitution is just a karaoke bar away, yet possession of pornography is punishable by imprisonment – despite the fact that millions of single Chinese men (called bare branches) will never have wives or even girlfriends due to gross gender imbalance.

Burger laudably also tackles the sex trade from a female’s perspective, including an interview with a housewife-turned-hair-salon hostess who, ironically, finds greater success with foreigners than with her own sex-starved albeit ageist countrymen.

Western dating practices among hip, urban Chinese are duly contrasted with traditional courtship conventions, though, when it comes down to settling down, Burger points out that the Chinese are still generally resistant to the idea that marriage can be based on love.  This topic naturally segues into the all-but-acceptable custom of kept women (little third), as well as homowives, those tens of millions of straight women trapped in passionless unions with closeted gay men out of filial piety.

Behind the Red Door concludes by stressing that while the Chinese remain a sexually open society at heart, contradictive policies (enforced by dubious statistics) designed to discard human desire are written into law yet seldom enforced, simply because “sexual contentment is seen as an important pacifier to keep society stable and harmonious.”

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Travel Photographer Tom Carter traveled for 2 years across the 33 provinces of China to show the diversity of Chinese people in  China: Portrait of a People, the most comprehensive photography book on modern China published by a single author.

Also by Tom Carter Eating Smoke — a question and answer with author, Chris Thrall in addition to Harlequin Romance Invades China

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Note: This guest post by Tom Carter first appeared in China in City Weekend Magazine. Reblogged with permission of Tom Carter. Behind the Red Door was published by Earnshaw Books


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