The Tu live in dispersed farmsteads often in high-altitude river valleys and plains, and in the surrounding mountains. Most villages are located at the foot of hills and near rivers. An extended family traditionally lived together in an enclosure of packed earth walls, with separate buildings for storage, living, cooking and livestock. These buildings have mud walls, wood rafters and beams, and thatched roofs. [Source: Ian Skoggard, e Human Relations Area Files (eHRAF) World Cultures, Yale University]
The Tu have traditionally been goat and sheep herders. Beginning as early as the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and fully established by the early 18th century, the Tu adopted a mixed economy of farming and cattle breeding. Their major crops are wheat, highland barley, and potatoes. Traditional handicrafts include weaving, felt making, preparation of fur, and silver smithery. After 1949 modern industry made its way into the region with the production of farm machinery, chemical fertilizers, wine, ores, and coal.
Tu villages are close-knit communities made up of extended families. Every household is constructed of rooms surrounding a quadrangular called Ma, on three sides. Characteristic of the traditional style of the houses in China's Northwest, it is distinguished by high walls, four strikingly angular entrances, and white stone pillars erected to "subdue the evil spirits." The main part of the house, where elder members of the family live, face south towards the courtyard gate, and the kitchen lies in the east or the northeastern corner of the compound. The family shrine is usually erected against the wall just opposite the door of the main-room.
Children have traditionally been expected to get a large of their education from observing village life, including religious rites and public assemblies. Four missionary-run primary schools were set up in the early 20th century. By 1981, over 500 state-run schools had been set up in the Huzhu Tu Autonomous County, alone. There is now a Tu professional class with engineers, artists, journalists, teachers, and doctors. [Source: Ian Skoggard, e Human Relations Area Files (eHRAF) World Cultures, Yale University]
See Separate Article TU MINORITY factsanddetails.com
Tu Customs, Taboos and Hospitality
The Tu have are famous for their industry and honesty. Historical records refer to them as "industrious in plough" and having "simple and honest local custom, magnificent natural conditions, and solid and generous character". The traditional virtues include respecting the old, loving children, uniting to help each other, enthusiasm and hospitality. The Tus are especially hospitable. All guests, including passersby and anyone that should ask for an accommodation, are welcomed with open arms. To show great respect to the elderly, they have traditionally gotten down from their horse and said hello to elderly they knew and crossed paths with. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences ~]
The Tu often say: "guests bring luck with them." Whenever the guests come, Tu go out of their way to entertain them with great enthusiasm. Their custom of "three cups of wine" and "three procedures of meal" are well-known throughout northwestern China. The Tu often get the drinking sets ready if unexpected visitors arrive. If they are expecting some guests, the Tu greet them at the village entrance or outside their house. When guests arrive, each guest is respectfully presented three cups of wine—a custom called "wine after getting down the horse"; when the guests are led to the door of the host’s' home, another three cups of wine are presented. These are called "the three cups wine of calling at the door". When guests enter the room and sit on the kang, the hosts present three more cups of wine—"the three cups of wine of luck and happiness". ~
At important festivals, or when the honored guests are received, hosts prepare "three procedures of meal" with different flavors to entertain them. Generally, the first meal is tea and steamed bun; the second meal is tea with milk and deep-fried dough cake; the third meal is noodle slices or noodles. During the meal, the hosts offer highland barley wine, mutton and other delicious dishes. The guest is served with a "Kong Guo Mo" which is as big as a watermelon. If the guest is quite distinguished the boiled lamb is served with a 15-centimeter-long knife inserted in it. The wine pot have tufts of white wool tied to them. Everybody chats amiably and drinks together. Sometimes they raise their wine cups and sing antiphonally. ~
When the banquet is over and the guests stand up to say goodbye, the hosts offer three cups of wine, to say farewell to the guests. This is called "wine of getting on the horse". Tu people believe the more guests drink, and the more delicious the meal is, the better they feel as hosts. Of course, if the guests are in a situation where they cannot drink too much, the hosts will not force them. In this situation, if the guest uses his ring finger to dip in wine and flip it three times to the sky, and express their thanks, and the hosts will feel satisfied. ~
According to Chinatravel.com: When visiting a Tu family, the guest should not relieve himself or herself in the places where livestock is located. They should not count the number of the livestock either, for it is believed that counting the number of the livestock can affect the growth of the livestock. When sitting on the kang (the bed built of bricks which is heatable) of the host, the guest is forbidden to be seated on the pillow or quilt. Besides, there are some taboos related to the door. When a baby is born, or a new door is equipped, or there is a patient at home, the Tu family will stick a piece of red square paper on the door, or light a fire near the door. At that time, guests are not allowed to enter the yard. [Source: Chinatravel.com \=/]
Tu Family and Kin
At one time the Tu may may have shared the exogamous, patri-clan organization of their cousins on the steppes, with marriages outside the village or clan, but Chinese influence changed it so that sib (kin group, imag) members may share a common name (patronym) but are not necessarily genealogically related. Ian Skoggard wrote: There are 17 Tu sibs. Apparently, two are descendents of the Imperial family of the Yuan Dynasty. Sibs are further divided into property-owning branches called “Houses." The number of houses per sib averages from three to thirteen. [Source: Ian Skoggard, e Human Relations Area Files (eHRAF) World Cultures, Yale University]
The Tu kinship terminology borrows greatly from the Chinese and less so from the Tibetans and Turks. The kinship system is of the bifurcate collateral type, which differentiates between father, father's brother and mother's brother; and also between mother, mother's sister and father's sister. Seniority is also recognized by different terms, for example, father's brothers are referred to as “big father" and “little father" depending on their age relative to the father. The terminology for maternal kinsmen is not as rich as that for paternal.
Tu family is a patrilineal extended family headed by a grandfather or great-grandfather. Herds and land are collectively owned. The patriarch has final say over all property and family matters. All earnings are pooled and controlled by him as well. Property, such as land and livestock, is usually divided when the grandfather dies and is transmitted from father to son, with the eldest son receiving a larger share. If the father dies young, the widow holds the estate in trust to give to her sons when they come of age, even if she should marry again. Sons who become lamas do not inherit. To insure as fair a settlement as possible family and village elders discuss the proceedings in front of the whole village. Daughters may inherit a small portion of the family property, either real property or herds, as part of their dowry. If levirate marriage, in which a man is obliged to marry his brother's widow, is practiced then the property of the widow and surviving brother is combined and inherited equally by the children of both marriages.
Socialization and education occur mainly within the extended family, where children are brought up by their grandparents as much as their parents. Boys and girls are treated with equal affection. As children grow up, boys help out with farming and herding, and girls help their mothers in the kitchen, gathering fuel, tending animals in the stables, and sewing.
Tu Marriage and Wedding Customs
The Tu wedding day ritual is interesting. The groom sends his envoy to pick up the bride with a few strong horses, a sheep, comb and strips for hair decoration. After arriving at the bride’s home, the envoy is welcomed with singing and dancing outside and, as he enters, a basin of cold water is suddenly poured on him behind him. Everyone has a good laugh when that happens. Later the groom stands outside his home holding wine and proposes a toast to his guests. The bride walks along red carpet into the bridal chamber. The whole ceremony is full of laughter and singing. [Source: yellowsheepriver.com ]
The Tu wedding dance is often performed at weddings. Typically it is mainly performed by two "nashijin"—persons who come to welcome the bride and are proficient in singing and dancing, and are assigned by the family of the bridegroom. They wear white and brown shirts, and other people accompany for them. The movements are different in different places. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities]
Ian Skoggard wrote: “One must marry outside one's sib and within one's own generation. The preferred marriage is between a mother's brother's son and a father's sister's daughter. Betrothal can be set when the future spouses are still infants and marked by exchange of part of the bride-wealth (kalym). Polygyny was practiced by those who could afford it, the number of wives usually not more than three. Divorce was possible if the wife was severely mistreated. [Source: Ian Skoggard, e Human Relations Area Files (eHRAF) World Cultures, Yale University]
In most marriages the bride goes to live with her husband’s family (heruojian). In some cases, the groom, usually from a poor family, moves in with the bride's family (zhaolajiang), where he provides a bride-service for a fixed number of years, or until the death of the wife's parents. The husband may be adopted, take on the name of his wife's family, and reside with them permanently.
In some cases, a woman continues to live with her family and take lovers. According to this custom, known as “marriage with the pole" (daitiantou), girls who are not married by the age of 15 are "married to heaven” and can have children with any man they choose. Their offspring are referred to as “children of heaven." Girls born into such families are raised by their patrilineal family. [Source: "Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia and Eurasia/ China", edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (C.K. Hall & Company, 1994)]
Tu people eat three meals a day. Breakfast is simple, mainly potatoes and tsanba (Tibetan barely flour). Lunch is rich of rice and vegetables. In the evening the Tus usually have noodles and dough sheets for dinner. Mutton is often served when entertaining guests and at festivals. Tu people keep their doors open to the visitors. They believe visitors can bring happiness and fortune. The host will propose three toasts to the visitors as they come to their place and before they leave. [Source: yellowsheepriver.com ]
The staples of the Tu diet are mainly highland barley and wheat. They have traditionally only eaten a few vegetables, around 10 to 20 different kinds, including radish, Chinese cabbage, green onion, garlic, asparagus and lettuce. They are fond of pickled Chinese cabbage with some meat. The Tu people like drinking tea with milk and eating butter noodles. During festivals, family member get together and make various kinds of fried food, boiled pork and boiled lamb. Tu men enjoy drinking home-brewed barley wine. The Tu people attach much importance to food safety. When they have meals, everyone has his or her own bowl and chopsticks. It is also the same while entertaining a guest.It is taboo to eat the meat of donkeys, mules, horses or dogs. [Source: Chinatravel.com \=/]
Traditionally, guests are treated to a five course meal. The first course consists of buttered tea (made by mixing tea with butter and salt in a churn), deep fried buns, and steamed twisted rolls made of flour. The second course includes fried puffy shredded dough (or deep fried noodles) with stewed beef ribs. The third course includes a variety of stuffed buns, followed by the fourth-course of meat eaten with the fingers. The meal isn't complete without the last course of the Tu's specialty of homemade long noodles.
Tu Clothes and Embroidery
Tu dress clearly distinguishes them from other groups where they live such as Mongols, Tibetans, and Hui. Both men and women wear white felt hats in the winter and decorate their clothes with bright, contrasting colors, and elaborate embroidery. The Tu are highly skilled embroiderers. Tu women wear heavy brocaded skirts and blouses with brightly-colored, rainbow-effect sleeves made of pieces of different colored cloth stitched together. The traditional Tu hat looks like a Mexican sombrero with its rims turned upwards.
The clothes of the Tu people are unique in their colors and styles. Both men and women wear delicately embroidered clothes with high collars. Tu men like to wear dark robes on top of a white short gown, with a green waistband and a felt hat. Felt hats with brocade brims are popular. Women's clothes are more colorful than men's. The typical Tu woman’s costume is a short jacket with buttons down the side, with a black sleeveless garment worn outside. Their jackets have sleeves made up of cloth in the five colors of the rainbow: red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Young women often wear colorful skirts in reds while middle-aged women prefer blue ones. The Tu used to be very particular about their hair, limited to seven or eight particular styles. However, nowadays any simple hairstyle topped by a brocaded felt hat is accepted among Tu women. [Source: yellowsheepriver.com ]
Most men between thirty and fifty wear a gown with small collar and an oblique front part, or an embroidered high-collar white short gown, and black or purple sleeveless jacket and trousers. Tu women of the same age wear a gown with high collar and an oblique front part. Collar bands, front hems, cuffs and lowers hem are embroidered with bright-colored and beautiful decorative patterns. Topping it all off is a traditional "niuda" hat. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]
The Tu are famous for their embroidery, which is distinctive and complex. It widely applied to collars, cuffs, belts, insteps, vamps of boots and other parts of women's clothing and the collars, cloth fronts, belts, cigarette bags and other parts of young men's clothing. Tu embroidery is also used in the making of various kinds of Tibetan Buddhist and religious objects: religious streamers, pillar carpets, and tapestries. The embroidery methods of the Tu nationality are mainly divided into circling embroidery and flat embroidery. The craftsmanship is exquisite and careful and the color is bright. Tu embroidery not features traditional Tu patterns but also Tibetan ones and Han Chinese ones such as the "five-petal plum", "zhuan kui zi", "Taiji picture", "peacock playing with peony", "lion rolling silk ball", "cold magpie watching plum" and "pomegranate flower". ~
Tu Hats and Head Ornaments
Tu people have long favored rolled-brim felt hats. Women’s felt hats are generally brown or white. The rolled brim is high and even, decorated with brocade lace, and are thus called "pulling gold lock" felt hats. Men’s felt hats are generally white or black. Their most distinguishing feature is that the back brim is rolled up, the front brim is extended out. The hats are in the shape of a "hawk's mouth pecking food", which is lower in the front and higher in the back like a "hawk's mouth pecking food". [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]
Ornamental headgear is called "niuda", which mean "head ornaments" in the Tu language. They are mainly popular in Huzhu Tu nationality autonomous county in Qinghai province and other places. They come in a variety of styles, with eight or nine being the most representative types. 1) "Tuhun niuda"("solid food head") hat is shaped of solid food (round pancake) and is oldest and most honored hat of the Tu minority. ~
To make a "Tuhun niuda" hat: first make a round cloth whose diameter is about 23 to 24 centimeters, inlay it with triangle patterns that are made of colored cloth strips. The brim is decorated with two layers of colored threads and thin tassels. The front middle part is decorated with two bunches of colored tassels 14 to 15 centimeters in length. Almost a hundred sparkling steel needles are inserted into the back brim. Before wearing it, connect two pieces of rectangle thin copper 14 to 15 centimeters in length and 6 to 7 centimeters the width together with silk threads, and fasten it between the temples, and fasten a semi-lunar "sujirige" made of cow's tail or long hair at the back part of the head. To put on the "niuda", place a silver-made "xiangdou" in the shape of an upside down bowl on the head, and tightly fasten the "xiangdou", "niuda" and hair together with a silver clasp. On the silver hair clasp on both sides of the "xiangdou" a bunch of long red thread tassels are hung. The headgear is complete with a pair of big earrings made of silver. ~
To make the "Shige niuda" ("winnowing fan head ornament") first make a frame with soft achnatherum (needle grass), then paste with hard paper or coarse cloth. Gold and silver foil paper is pasted on the middle part of the surface, and many multicolored cloth strips with wrinkles are pasted, with a circle of mica sheets inlaid around it. Scores of red silk tassels about 10 centimeters in length fall on both sides before the forehead. The most distinguishing feature of the "naren niuda" ("three-pronged head ornament") is a three-pronged sword made of copper erected at the back of the head. The "jiasi niuda" ("share top head ornament") features an erected decoration that “shares” the top of the head. There is also the "jiamu niuda", "xuegulang niuda" and "suobudou niuda". These days, less and less women wear these traditional head ornaments. Most Tu women wear their hair in two long braids and let them fall on their back, and wear roll brim felt hats with brocade lace. ~
Tu Folk Literature and King Gesar
Folk literature of Tu is very colorful. It consists of banquet songs, narrating poems, fables, nursery rhyme and riddles. Some banquet songs are performed in welcoming the guests, with elegant and praising lyrics. Some are about history, geography, chronometer, meteorology as well as religion and habitude. The banquet songs are also sung in wedding ceremony with strong ethical and local style.
There are many stories unmasking the devil landlord, about Tu people’s struggle with the landlords and expressing young people’s yearning for freedom and love. Many fables also satirize the landlords and prefects’ hypocrisy and atrocity. Larenbu and Jimensuo is the representative of narrating poem, solemn but elegant, expressing the young people’s desire for freedom and love and full of complaint about feudalism. In festivals and wedding ceremony, Tu people get together singing and dancing happily, especially on the harvest and praying safety ceremony holding in July. [Source: yellowsheepriver.com ]
The Gesar epic tradition was inscribed in 2009 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. According to UNESCO: The ethnic Tibetan, Mongolian and Tu communities in western and northern China share the story of the ancient hero King Gesar, sent to heaven to vanquish monsters, depose the powerful, and aid the weak while unifying disparate tribes. The singers and storytellers who preserve the Gesar epic tradition perform episodes of the vast oral narrative (known as ‘beads on a string’) in alternating passages of prose and verse with numerous regional differences. [Source: UNESCO]
See KING GESAR: TIBET’S GREAT HEROIC EPIC factsanddetails.com
Tu Wheel Swings and Qinghaicong Horses
The sports and entertainment activities of the Tu are abundant and colorful. Among them, the wheel swing is one of the most unique. In the old days, in slack season, especially during the period of the Spring Festival, people often disassembled the "upper foot" (awning) of a carriage, and erected the "lower foot"—wheel and axle— like a pole with wheel on the ground and the other in the air. Stones or other heavy things were put around the wheel on the ground to keep it in place. A ladder, three to four meters in length, was bound horizontally on the upper wheel. On both ends of the ladder, "U"-shaped swings were tied. During a competition, two persons sat in the swings and exerted themselves to rotate the wheel. The person who went around for the longest time without feeling dizzy was the winner. The game was played by men and women, old and young, and especially loved by teenagers. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities]
These days the wheel swing has been improved and is no longer made from a disassembled carriage. Now, most of the wheel swings is welded with steel tubes, and equipped with ball bearing, so they faster but safer and more convenient to use. At festivals, wheel swing competitions sometimes are major spectator events.
In the central part of Qinghai Lake is a Haixinshan Island, which is said to be the birthplace of the famous Qinghaicong horse. About 1500 years ago, Tuguhun people imported excellent stock from India to crossbreed with local horses and bred the Qinghaicong Horse. It’s said the original Qinghaicong Horses could run thousands of miles per day and dance to the rhythm of music. They were presented to the Chinese emperor as valuable gifts. In Dufu’s poem, the running speed of these horses was emphasized. Tuguhun people loved horses. Under their law, the punishment for stealing horses was the same as killing a person. Also, eating “round feet” animals was a taboo. Nowadays, it’s hard to see horses around Qinghai Lake area, as they have been replaced by motorbikes. [Source: yellowsheepriver.com]
Tu Art, Regong and Thangkas
The of art the Tu is closely related with their belief in Tibetan Buddhism. Tu monks and craftsmen make hanging scrolls, murals, sutras with Buddhist scriptures the statues of Buddha. They are also skilled in producing decorative patterns that symbolize luck and happiness on the ridgepoles, beams, doors and windows of temples and houses. People call these artists and craftsmen "Regong lasuo" and refer to their work as "Regong art". [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]
As is true with local Hui, Han and other minorities, the Tu are skilled at brick carving and making architectural decorations from mud and bricks. Generally, brick carving is divided into two types: lift type and carving type. The former uses clay mud to make dragons, phoenixes, lions, various kinds of flowers, birds, worms and fishes by hand or mould, then fire it in a kiln. In the latter carvers carve relief images on black bricks. Brick carving can be found on all kinds of buildings, in temples and houses, mostly concentrated on arched doors, yard walls, screen walls and flowerbeds. Most of the brick Tu carving patterns ingeniously connect mountain-and-water scenes with auspicious words. ~
Regong (Rebgong, Rebkong) arts was inscribed in 2009 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. According to UNESCO: In monasteries and villages along the Longwu River basin in Qinghai Province in western China, Buddhist monks and folk artists of the Tibetan and Tu ethnicity carry on the plastic arts of painting ''thangka'' and murals, crafting patchwork ''barbola'' and sculpting known collectively as the Regong arts. Their influence extends to nearby provinces and beyond to South-East Asian countries.
See THANGKAS: TYPES, SUBJECTS, MATERIALS AND MAKING THEM factsanddetails.com
Tu Folk Songs
The Tu are famous for singing and dancing. Ballads with beautiful melodies, as well as oral literature with stirring plots can be heard everywhere in the Tu populated areas. A traditional ballad-singing festival is held once a year, when thousands upon thousands of singers and young people gather from all over the area to get together and sing to their hearts' content. The music of the Tu consists mainly folk songs, divided into family songs, field songs and children's songs. Family songs are also called "banquet songs", and they include paeans, dialogue songs and wedding songs. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]
Paeans are songs used by the hosts and guests to praise each other when the Tu entertain honored guests. For example, the hosts praise the guests that "their prestige is as high as the blue sky, and their loving-kindness is as deep as the sea", when the guests praise the hosts, the say that the hosts’ ordinary tableware is like gold cups and jade bowls and their ordinary foods are like delicacies, the main objective being to praise the hospitality of the hosts. Generally, three stanza make up one paean, the length of each stanza is different. Generally, the first two stanza are written by the means of analogy, and the last one contains the actual meaning. Generally, two people, one serving as the main singer, and the other accompanying him or her, sing the paeans. The tunes of paeans come in a great variety. The melodies strive to be tender and beautiful. The the language is flowery, and the analogies are is lively and vivid. ~
Dialogue songs are songs sung in antiphonal style (alternate singing by two choirs or singers). The singers question each other, communicate life knowledge and experiences through of antiphonal singing. Subjects include astronomy, geography, history, politics, religious beliefs, production, life, local conditions and customs. The form is generally three questions with three answers. The main melody is similar as paean, using brief phrases to answer the questions put forward by the other party. For example, "Heni" is a dialogue song that uses questions to teach about important aspects of animal husbandry, such as the birth, life habits, characteristics and physiology of sheep, how to kill sheep, and how to entertain guests with mutton. ~
Wedding songs are those that are sung on wedding ceremony. The words and tune of songs are specially fixed, the singers and scenes are strictly provided. Generally, they are divided into two parts: escorting the bride and getting married. The opposite form of "family songs" is the "field songs".
Hua’r: Tu Family Songs
To sing "Hua'r"—also known as "family song" or "outdoor song"— is one of the main activities of Tu in the cultural life. Tu men and women, old and young, all like singing it, and everybody knows how to sing it. At a traditional "Hua'r" party, Tu Hua’r singers often sing antiphonally and unceasingly. Most skilled singers are able express feelings, describe the scene, improvise quickly and come up with clever, fluent answers.
Many "Hua'r" songs are love songs, describing the mutual love feelings of young men and women. Tu "Hua'r" have traditionally only been sung on mountains or fields, and could not be heard by relatives. If the parents and brothers and sisters are on hand, they could not be sung. To do otherwise was considered impolite and the singer could be scolded, or worse. Popular Hua’r songs include Good Hua'r ling, Galianshou ling, Liangliang'r Shanglanglai and YangLiu Sisters. All of them are short, pithy, vivid and lively.
One goes: The cherry is delicious but the tree is difficult to plant,
We need to build a trellis for white grape;
I love you but I am too shy to tell you,
The young people want to chat with each other.
The highest is the sky and the deepest is the sea,
The most beautiful is the dews of pistil,
The most fragrant is musk and the sweetest is honey,
The best thing is the husband and wife accompany each other.
See Festivals Under TU MINORITY factsanddetails.com
Hua’er on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List
Hua’er was inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. According to UNESCO: In Gansu and Qinghai Provinces and throughout north-central China, people of nine different ethnic groups share a music tradition known as Hua’er. The music is drawn from an extensive traditional repertoire named after ethnicities, towns or flowers (‘Tu People’s ''ling’,'' ‘White Peony ''ling’''), and lyrics are improvised in keeping with certain rules – for example, verses have three, four, five or six lines, each made up of seven syllables. [Source: UNESCO]
Songs may tell of young love, the hard work and weariness of the farming life, the foibles of men and women or the joy of singing. The songs are also a vivid oral record of recent social developments in China as singers comment on the changes they observe around them. Hua’er singers may have little schooling, but the most successful and widely respected singers today have become household names, performing widely and even creating their own institutes to pass on their art to apprentices.
Whether it is being sung spontaneously by rural people working in the field or travelling or performed more formally at one of more than a hundred traditional Hua’er festivals held annually in these provinces, Hua’er is an important vehicle for expressing personal feelings in a social setting and cultural exchange across ethnicities, as well as a popular rural entertainment.
Tu Anzhao Dance
"Anzhao"—or "Qianjiaori" in the Tu language—means "curve" or "rotation". It describes a kind of old folk song and dance form once popular among the Tu. Because the song often have the phrases "anzhao suoluoluo" and "anzhao — zhaoying zhaoya", they are called anzhao songs. Anzhao is a collective dance with no accompanying musical instruments. The dance is guided by the melody and rhythms of the songs. The dancers' steps and postures are lithe and graceful. Generally, one person leads the dance and singing , and other people closely follow him, accompanying him and inserting words in the songs. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]
Anzhao movements and dancing steps: 1) first bend, then move forward, both arms swaying to the right at the same time of the first step; 2) then sway to the left at the time of the second step. 3) When the dancers stride out for third step, the left foot jumps highly, and they raise both arms and rotate the body to the right for a circle. The dancers circulate and repeat this, dancing and jumping. The dance does not come to an end until all participants have enjoyed themselves to the full. ~
Generally, the words of "anzhao" are divided into passages, three sentences make up a passage, and three passages make up a group. Dance melodies include"Anzhao suoluoluo" and "Larelie". The rhythms of dances change according to the songs. The Tu have traditionally loveed "anzhao". At the festivals and on wedding days, they like to come together to joyfully sing and dance in a group. ~
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, Chinese government
Text Sources: 1) "Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia and Eurasia/ China", edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (C.K. Hall & Company; 2) Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn ~; 3) Ethnic China *\; 4) Chinatravel.com \=/; 5) China.org, the Chinese government news site china.org | New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Chinese government, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, AP, AFP, Wikipedia, BBC and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated October 2022