Guangzhou has added four more items to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritages in China, raising Guangzhou's total number to 18, according to the announcement of China's State Council on May 23.
The four new items include Cantonese Operatic Song, Guangdong Puppet Drama, the custom of Double Seventh Festival in Tianhe District and Polo Birth. The Intangible Cultural Heritage list contains a total of 1219 items.
Cantonese Opera performance in the Lizhiwan, Guangzhou
Cantonese Operatic Songs (粤曲) is the purely singing version of Cantonese Opera (粤剧), without costume or acting. Its history can be traced back to the middle 19th century, when "Shiniang"(blind female singers) sang and played the accompaniment themselves in restaurants, streets or by private invitation. They sang in "Operatic Mandarin," and several became famous. In the early 20th Century, "Nuling" (女伶, sighted female singers) dominated the stage instead of the blind singers. They reformed the performance by adding a band and singing in Cantonese. Soon male singers joined the performances, and such entertainment became a regular feature in restaurants across Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.
A puppet used in the drama performance
Guangdong Puppet Drama (广东木偶戏) was popular in the west of Guangdong during Ming and Qing dynasties. Gaozhou (高州) was most famous for the art. There they used delicately crafted wooden puppets that hyped up audiences with their ability to wink and breathe fire.
Handicrafts shown in the Double Seventh Festival
Double Seventh Festival (天河乞巧节) was popular in Guangzhou in ancient times, most notably in Zhucun (珠村), Tianhe District. It is a festival for women to pray for better handicraft skills. They would also exhibit and sell their handicrafts.
Statue of Nansha Aquatic Goddess in the Polo Birth parade
Polo Birth (波罗诞) is one of the most influential temple fairs in South China, and has more than a thousand years of history. The fair is held in February 11 - 13 at God of South China Sea Temple (南海神庙) in Huangpu, Guangzhou. Once a year worshippers flock to pray to the God of the South China Sea. It is said that in the Tang Dynasty an envoy from Polo, a small nation near India, came to Guangzhou. The envoy was so fascinated by the prosperity of the city that he missed his ship back home. After his death, Polo Temple was built in his honour. It marked the starting point of the "Maritime Silk Road" to the Indian Ocean in ancient China.
(By Lynus Tan, Daniel Epstein, photos by Guangzhou Daily)