Wuchan city - historical famous person and folk art
An old text from the age of Qing Dynasty said there was
a place belonging to Wu family where the water of three rivers was
collected. « river » in chinese is « chan ». This give an explanation
for the name of Wuchan city.
These three rivers are Jian river, Meihua river and Sanya river. The three rivers flow from Xinyi, Gaozhou, Huazhou, then pass Wuchan and inflow the South China Sea. Wuchan is a flood plain in Yuexi, with an area of 848 square kilometers ; most of this area are mesa and delta plain.
Wuchan city is located 70 kilometers west of Zhanjiang city, it is bordered at east with Maoming city, its west side is close to Liangjiang city, its north side is near Huazhou city, its south side approachs South China Sea , the population is 1.06 million. The city has more developed places for the agriculture, the fishery and private enterprises.
Wuchwan city has a long history which begins with Stone Age. It was the most important place in Yuexi during all previous dynasties, talented men came in great number, then had great achievements in agricutlture, industry and trade. For instance, Chen Lanbin was the first elected chinese ambassador in America during Qing Dynasty, the number one scholar Lin Zhaotang, senior official Lin Liangui, military commander Yi Zhong, Ceng Bingzhong, Peng Yu, Zhang Yan and so on, who all are representative of Wuchan.
This historical civilization has enriched specific folk arts in Wuchan. It were formed by atmosphere of mass culture with strong art, and are still present in every Lantern Festival : Piaose, clay figurines, flower bridge, flower tower, Taogu (one kind of drum), puppets, lion dragon dance and so on.
The Lantern Festival in Wuchan : a three days and three nights carnival
The different and rich folk arts are shown in Meilu town, Wuchan county, during the carnival, from the 15th to the 17th of the first lunar month every year.
During these three days, every minute and every second, all the people are in ebullition and excited. More than 100,000 persons take part in the activities every day. Every people and every family opens his door to receive guests, with rich wine and meat. Everywhere lion dance and dragon dance follow the drum, it seems the air vibrates.
On the side of the crowded avenue, visitors can see the flowering plants, the bonsais, the color buildings, the decorative lanterns, the flowered pavilions, the flowered towers, the flowered bridge, the clay figurines, the color cloths and the color curtains, the whole city is multicolored and ablaze with lights. The parade troop extends on several kilometers, following the lion dance, the dragon dance, the dance with Taogu, the color of fields, Piaose, all of that looking like a colorfull flowing river. At that time you want to see everything, worry to miss one scenery, especially Piaose, the clay figurines or the flowered bridge, which are called "the three unique skills" of lantern festival in Wuchan.
Piaose is the most amazing "scenery" in literary arts parade in Wuchwan county. What’s Piaose ? It is a color stage moved by several people, it is also called "screen". On the color stage are installed several firmly posture characters. The characters stand on supports, which cannot be seen and are hidden by character’s clothing, the above persons seem to be floating in the air. The support of Piaose is made with steel rods, strong enough to support the weight of one person. In order to reduce the burden’s weight, they generally choose children about ten years old. Like that, floating peoples appear really mysteriously and wonderfully. In the past time Piaose used to show one person, with another person floatting. Now it has been developed to several screens and several flutters, which reaches as high as several floors (person above some people). For instance : Sun mahatma stretches out the Jingang stick, the Nazha stand on the stick by one foot, and is fighting with a monster. These Piaose float for 2 or 3 hours. Is it reliable?
The scenario of Piaose is generally inspired by the ancient dramas, the folklore, the historical story and so on. One stage of Piaose, it is a splendid scene. While the parade with several dozens Piaose move around the city, it is a wonderful sight!
Lifelike clay figurines
The clay figurines showed all over the streets and the lanes, also became ‘scenery line’ during Lantern Festival in Wuchan county. These modelling of clay figurines come from the ancient times heroes, beautiful women, immortal persons, which are bigger than real people, and lifelike. Each clay figurine is showing on the stage with one pose. What’s scene with rich legendary color !
The support of clay figurines is made from iron and wood, the body is made of straw, the surface of model moulded out ot clay. After the figurine is copied, one of its side is coloured, then it is dressed with clothing, at least one set of clay figurines is finished. The figurines are many, showing different charracters, for instance "Qu Yuan", "The Jiang Gate gods is hit with drunk", "Zhaojun to get married", "Eight Immortals quarrel and fight with Sea", and so on.
Wuchan’s clay figurine origin comes from the ancient time potter's plaything, which has been more than thousand years old, obviously this art is well-established.
The flower bridge is full of fresh flowers
It is easy to imagine a bridge decoration with fresh flowers. Yes, during the Lantern Festival, the Wuchan’s flower bridge is decorated with up to several hundreds thousands fresh flowers. The tourists enjoy the flower bridge, and it became a most dazzling scenery. During the day and the night, the bridge gathers number of people, the fashionably dressed men and women, the old persons and children, all take a stroll on the flower bridge ; after that they will have a good luck around the year.
In order to satisfy traditional custom, the colored bridge is cover with red and white artificial flowers while nearby the head of bridge is sold arrowhead and greens. People who want to give birth to a boy, will pick up a white artificial flower and buy an arrowhead (a kind of vegetable which looks like boy’s reproductive organ ), people who want to give birth to a girl will pick up a red artificial flower, people who want to get rich will buy the greens (green and wealthy are homophone word). Anyway, after Lantern festival, all of the arrowheads and greens are sold out, and there is no artificial flowrers left on the bridge.
The special sound of drum
In Wayao village (Meilu town, Wuchwan county) the ancient Taogu dance (one kind of chinese drum) is retaining. Since the Ming Dynasty, the Wayao village has been burning ceramics to make a life, they have began to make Taogu, with shape looking like long drum. Dancers hang the drum slanted to waist, beating its two sides. Listening to the lively rhythm and sonorous drum, it seems the history flows backward.
Persons fight with ‘beasts’ - Pixiu dance
Is Pixiu one kind of beast ? We have never seen, but Wuchwan people have seen it. It is a kind of lion, it looks like bear but it is not a bear, the body of the animal alternates black and white strips.
According to the legend, in ancient times Mei mountain had a big beast called ‘Pixiu’, this beast had a flat head and a long body, a protruding forehead with hollow eyes, a big mouth with sharp teeth, it had also a fierce look on its face, and often injuried person and livestock. A young man who wanted to eliminate the monster has been swallowed by it. The Spirit of lands was hurry and invitated the Ziwei spirit to subdue the Pixiu in order the people to enjoy a good and prosperous life.
In order to celebrate the immortal to remove harmful things, people have created a folk custom dance about Ziwei immortal subdue the ‘Pixiu, and passed it on from generation to generation. The dance became the custom, the implication that exorcises evil spirits to make the luck.
Now the ‘ Pixiu’ dance we can see is composed of four persons. Two person play with ‘Pixiu’ , the two others play the role of Ziwei spirit and the Spirit of lands. With the sound of the percussion, showing the violence of wild animal, its fiercely, runing, crying and jumping,Then climbing the mountain (made with peoples) and so on. This magnificent scene showing the fight of people with the beast enjoys the audience
The ‘Pixiu’ dance have been shown in folk happy festival in Guangdong Province and at the Central Committee Television many times since 1980’s.