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Xichou Culture

Zhuang Songs and songforest

Zhuang people are reputed for singing. Zhuang people, male or female, start to learn singing at the age of four or five. Usually the fathers teach the sons and the daughters learn from the mothers, thus forming such a custom: learning songs in childhood, singing in adulthood, teaching in old age. In the countryside, people sing at any time and any place, whether laboring in the field, cutting firewood in the mountains, or even courting, whether at the wedding, funeral or festivals. They have the songs to express their feelings. In some places, people even sing in their common talks or even quarrels among family members. Therefore, the vast place where Zhuang people live gets a nickname "the sea of songs," as well as compared to "the land covered by the piano keys" in poetry. In the history, some famous singers were called Song Fairy or Song King, such as Liu Sanjie and Huang Sandi.

Zhuang songs are rich both in quantity and kinds. Based on the content and style, they can be classified into ancient songs, narrative long songs, life songs, labor songs, political songs, rite songs, love songs and kid songs and so on. However, when singing the Zhuang songs, people should follow certain established etiquettes and regulations, especially political songs, rite songs and love songs. For instance, the love songs are allowed to be sung freely in the wild songfests, but are forbidden at home or at the presence of parents. Different rite songs are sung on different occasions. Even different guests receive different welcome songs.

Marvelous  drawing skills

On the banks of the long Zoujiang River stand strangely shaped mountains and precipices. Mountains reflect themselves in the water, forming marvelous natural scenery. In 1956, just on these dangerous precipices, people found many pictures in dark red, featuring human, animals, bronze drums and boats etc.--- Huashan fresco. These pictures are roughly drawn, half-hidden, with crude lines. After seeing them, many scholars were full of praises, "Who wielded giant pens and composed such great works? It must be the nature." "Marvelous  drawing skills, rare in the world. Standing in the rain and wind for years, they remain fresh as ever."

Huashan fresco is distributed in seven counties, Ningming, Pingxiang, Longzhou, Chongzuo, Futuo, Daxin, and Tiandeng among the river basin of the Zuojiang River and its branches Mingjiang River, Heishuihe River, and Shuikouhe River. So far, 183 spots with 287 picture groups have been found in 84 places. This giant gallery, extending over 200 kilometers, with the sky as the roof and the mountains as the screen, is rare in the world both in scale and quantity.

Especially in Huashan Mountain in Ningming County, on the 200-meter-wide, 40-meter-high precipices hanging over the river there remain bright and colorful pictures, more than 1,800 of which are still intelligible. Due to its grand size, people use the mountain name to call all the frescos nearby --- Huashan fresco.

Zhuang Opera

Zhuang Opera, which is also called Zhuang drama, is a stage acting art with a history of several hundred years, developing from various Zhuang folk literature, music, dance and acrobatics. According to its style, it can be classified into South Zhuang Opera and North Zhuang Opera. It can be also classified into Shigong Opera, Guangnan Opera, Funing Opera, Longlin Opera, Tianlin Opera, Dejing Opera and Hanlong Opera according to its different areas, dialects, arias and acting arts.

Zhuang Opera carries unique nationality features and local characteristics. They are mostly written in Zhuang dialect in four-lined verses with five or seven characters to each line. They can be also written in the rhythm structures like that of the folk songs. The arias and melodies are based on folk songs and folk melodies. The acting is diverse in style, which mainly includes dancing and singing with spoken parts serving as links. Zhuang Opera also has a whole set of obbligato, costume and stage properties. The traditional list of plays for Zhuang Opera are as follows: Pan Gu, Wen Long and Xiao Ni, Bu Ya, Nong Zhigao, Si Jie Decents to the World, Liu Er Beats Ghost, Unbinding Mortar, A Flower, Precious Calabash, Red Bronze Drum, One Hundred Birds Clothes and etc.

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