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Farmers to preserve intangible cultural heritage

By Yang Jun and Dong Xianwu | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-28 07:35

Feng Wanming (left) passes down the essence of the shuochun art form by mentoring young people. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Feng Wanming could not have imagined that he would one day be talking to college students about intangible cultural heritage.

The 68-year-old farmer from the Dong ethnic group is an exponent of shuochun. He has been performing the art in the villages of Shiqian county in Guizhou province for the past 50 years.

Shuochun is a traditional performance art of the Dong ethnic group practiced for 10 days every year around lichun (the beginning of spring), the first of 24 solar terms, dating to the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

It combines singing and storytelling. The performances are often staged as rituals related to agricultural activities-to mark the arrival of spring and to pray for a good harvest for the coming year.

Feng says early spring used to be the busiest time for him-he had to visit the villages for shuochun performances.

"In the past, we were very popular. Wherever we went, we attracted big crowds," he says.

But the young generation has lost interest.

"The essence of our traditional culture is being lost," says Feng.

Statistics show that Guizhou province has 85 types of intangible cultural heritage in the national category and 561 in the provincial category.

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