Cultural Express—Shaanxi Ten Wonders

When I was studying in XISU–Xi’an International Studies University,I always woke and got up very early in order to find myself some lone time to practise oral English in the classroom.I could not remember when it started.It was just one day I began to be accompanied by an old man shouting out Qin Opera strolling from the opposite side along the same avenue on campus,which was loud and sometimes amusing.I dare not do that if I were him.I would even refuse to stand in public,practising English loudly as some other senior students.Later another day,I was taking a relaxing walk on a square around,being assaulted(truely,I did not see anything aesthetic in it) again by the loud and amusing opera-shouting.Then I suddenly realized this might have been a common phenomenon here.

“The ballad is the following: as the folkway in Shaanxi is simple, the character of the people is valiant. When Qinqiang Hulian(a character type in Chinese operas) shout out, the audiences are all thoroughly delighted without fear of the stage canopy’s collapsing.

Among the ten specialties in Shaanxi, the strangest one is the Qingqiang (a typical opera of Shaanxi province) shouted out. Qinqiang is formed among the people, which reflects people’s wishes, love and hate, pain and happiness as well as their life and struggles. Its repertoires usually feature such themes as anti-aggression wars, the fight between the loyal and the treacherous anti-oppression wars,etc , which are important and full of the spice of life.

As the opera Qinqiang reflects the people’s character in Shaanxi and Ganshu, which is upright , frank, generous, loyal. In addition, it reflects the simple, industrious, brave folkway. Therefore, Qinqiang has profound groundwork. In the countries of Shaanxi, the greatest enjoyment is to listen to a scene of Qinqiang for the people who have worked hard for a year on  New Year’s Day or other festivals. If the children invite a troupe to act the Qingqing on the birthday of the old people, that will be the greatest honor about which the local people will talk for several months at least.

Qinqiang is a popular art which everyone can be close to. Whenever people are happy, they can act a section of Qinqiang during the hard work. The roaring resounds all around which excites people. when one is sad, his acting a section of Qinqiang with grief and indignation will make the mountains shake as well as the rivers; the vert sad. Like an umbilical cord, Qinqiang connects the future of Shaanxi people as well as their past supplying them with the thought milk.  

The following parts of Qinqiang have a style of their own including aria, spoken parts, banlu, types of facial make-up, shape, roles. With another name’thruming’, Qinqiang’s timbre of its aria is loud and sonorous needing the people’s real voice so that the original character, bold and inhibited, can be kept. The best place for Qingqiang’s acting is the open air for keeping its feature and appreciating its distillation. As Qinqiang have its own art style, it can attracts the local people. The direct aria of Qinqiang is exciting, boorish and simple by acting with deep and sonorous voice. As long as you hear the yowl of the ‘HeiTou’(a role in Qinqiang )seeing the Qinqiang, you can really feel its boldness and unconstrainedness which is the character of Qin people(Shaanxi people). The vigorous and firm sound can never be heard in the restrained and beautiful JiangNan (south of Yangtze River). When the exciting and indignant tune of Qinqiang resound in the boundless sky at bleak night, as a Shaanxi people, how can you not be resonated by it? The fiery applauding of the audiences arouses the actors’ desire of acting. Especially if the actors’ act gets the approve of all the audiences, the audiences will fire the firecrackers and put the red silk on the actors, which is the greatest honor for the actors. The climaxes are reached in succession in this fierce atmosphere.

After the liberation of the whole China, Qinqiang adopted some national instruments as well as other occident instruments to enrich its expressive force of music. The roles are categorized into 13 types, namely, four types of sheng (male roles in traditional Chinese opera), six dan (female characters), two jing (painted-face characters), and one chou (clown). The act of Qinqiang is simple, exquisite, profound, moving by feelings, exaggerating. It is characterized by the following aspects: types of facial make-up in opera (eg: the facial make-up of Qin Shihuang—the first emperor of Qin dynasty), ShenDuan(actors’ postures),make-up, stunts(eg: spitting fire, walk on stilts), sound. In my childhood, the antic was my most favourite actor, who could acted various actions by carrying an oil-lamp on the head. Chang Tianbao, an antic in Qinqiang named SanJinShi (three successful candidates in the highest imperial examinations),was punished to carry an oil-lamp on the head. With the oil-lamp, he acted many actions as kneeling, walking, laying on the back, going through chairs, desks as well as jumping onto desks. All of actions are relied on the balance skills of neck. Liu Shengsan, Jin Fuchang, Wang Banjie, Zhao Xuean, Cai Anjin are all good at this skill, eapecially Wang Banjie even can blow out the lamp. At that time, I admired those famous actors very much, so my biggest dream was to be an acotor of Qinqiang. However, now I can just sing some tuneless Qinqiang to console myself.

Qinqiang is also the originator of many operas. It can be divided into two parts. One becomes Bangzi opera in SiChuan, while the other becomes Jin opera in Shaanxi, Yu opera in Henan, Bangzi in Hebei. Therefore, Qinqiang can be called originator of Peking opera, Yu opera, Jin opera and Hebei Bangzi. Most of the materials of Qinqiang are drawn from sagas and tragedies in the following novels as the Annals of  Warring States, Three Kingdoms, The Generals of the Yang Clan,Yue Family Biography as well as fables, folktales and legal case operas. There are more than 10000 programs of Qinqiang which is the largest number among 300 operas. As it was far from now, many programs have been lost. According to the present Stat., there are only 4700 programs left. What’s more , these programs are losing at speed.

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Now, the flourishing complexion of Qinqiang has been the past when I come back to the hometown. The young in modern time admire the s star singers who have been packed as fine as possible. What’s more, their singing reminds me of the mosquitoes in summer which makes me uncomfortable.

As the times is developing at speed , the ten specialties of Shaanxi have disappeared, and the left ones are decreasing gradually. However, one can not be an real Shaanxi people if he is a stranger to this custom.”

This custom is so popular that even a talent show designated for that had been put on tele,which for me turned out to be more amusing.^_^However,this tradition also attracted many travelers’ ears.Opera houses have already been established around the Wenyi Road and inside the City Wall to cater for their interests in that.

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