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Current Location: Homepage » Chinese Culture » Chinese Opera 中国戏曲 » Main Body

Huaiqing Wooden Clappers 怀梆

Profile:Huaiqing Wooden Clappers 怀梆
Date: 2006
Category: Traditional Opera
Region: Henan Province
Project No. IV-25
Name of Applicant (region or institution): Qinyang City, Henan Province
Huaiqing Wooden Clappers is a rare, time-honored local opera of Henan Province. It originated in the then Huaiqing Prefecture (now Qinyang), so it was named Huaiqing Wooden Clappers, Old Huaiqing Wooden Clappers, Little Wooden Clappers Opera, and Huaiqing Tone, mainly popular in Qinyang, Boai, Jiyuan, Mengzhou, Wenxian, Wuzhi, Xiuwu, Yuanyang, Huojia, Jiaozuo and Xinxiang of Henan Province. It was formerly the Sea God Opera derived from the rain-praying chant and recital around the table that took shape during the reigns of Hongwu and Yongle of Ming Dynasty. The then Neihe County had many dwellers who had moved in from the area of Hongtong, Shanxi Province. Hence the performance style of Shanxi Opera kept in the Sea God Opera. When mixed with local custom and dialects of Henei County, it gradually turned into an opera with a tone that resembles closely the Middle Road Wooden Clappers of Shanxi yet characterizes the flavor of Huaiqing Prefecture, the programs, tone, recital and music all obviously identifying with the local features.
The Huaiqing Wooden Clappers opera contains over 300 traditional programs. The regular list ranges from Shuangsheng (double males), Shuangdan (double females) and Shuanghualian (double painted faces). The typical programs are The Uprising of West Capital, The Case of Ancient Locust Tree, The Drunken Zhang Chun, The Exchange Between Old and Young, Red Pearl Girl, Driving Away Qinsan, Killing Son at Barrack Gate, The Nine-head Case, Peach Blossom Temple, Phoenix Pavilion, Expedition at Dotage, and Five Daughters Celebrating his Birthday. All these programs generally have no script and have only been passed down by the old story-tellers by dictation.
No matter in terms of music or performance, Huaiqing Wooden Clappers still has a unique style of its own. It belongs to the family of clapper opera and entails the beat of date-tree wooden clappers during performance. The content is generally seven-character sentences, ten-character-sentences or long-short sentences, all in perfect parallel and in good rhyme. Huaiqing Wooden Clappers uses dialect during performance and the tone is usually a resonant and exciting one, with high eighth-pitch back sound when needed. The style of clappers comprises five kinds: Slow Clappers, Two-eight Clappers, Flowing Clappers, Three Clappers, and Void Clappers. The musical instruments include Large String, Banhu fiddle, Yueqin fiddle, Drum Clappers, and Big Gong. Huaiqing Wooden Clappers opera has a full array of roles including Sheng (male), Dan (female), Jing (painted face), Mo (secondary female) and Chou (clown), featuring a gruff and masculine manner suitable for performance of martial arts in both Quiet and Dynamic Settings.
Out of consideration for the unique style of Huaiqing Wooden Clappers, it is imperative that efforts be made to implement the work of exploration, salvation and preservation of Huaiqing Wooden Clappers Opera. It is of great value in passing down the ethnic culture, promoting the studies of wooden clappers system of China, and enriching and perfecting Chinese opera history. But, under the present situation, the performance market is in the process of slump and performers are leaving this trade in a large number due to the changes in the social conditions that Huaiqing Wooden Clappers depends on for survival and development. Now there is a lack of young people to inherit and it is being endangered, indeed. Urgent measures for salvation and preservation are being called for.

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