Jingxi Taipinggu (taiping drum dance) 京西太平鼓

Time: 2006
Category: Folk Dance
Region: Beijing City
Ref. No.: III-1
Nominating unit[s]: Mentougou District, Beijing City
Taipinggu is of folk dance for self-entertainment, carried on and developed by civilians in collective efforts. With a widespread mass base and deep historical roots, it plays an important role in folk activities at its prevalent places.
Taipinggu had been popular in Beijing since the Ming Dynasty, and it became very popular both inside and outside of Beijing in the early Qing Dynasty. In the late Qing Dynasty, taipinggu was spread to the Mentougou area. Almost every one from many villages in Mentougou area was able to play the taipinggu historically. Taipinggu, which means "peace and tranquility", was played in the imperial palace on lunar New Year’s Eve, so it was also called "yingniangu (the drums played to welcome the New Year)" in Beijing. The time to play the taipinggu most is the twelfth and the first month of the lunar year. It is very attractive in local calendric folk customs, and people play it to express their wishes for a time of peace and prosperity. Playing the taipinggu can not only enhance the festive atmosphere, but also reflect the festive customs of Beijing area in a way.
Taipinggu has a complete set of folk body language, such as, "wiggling", "quivering" (resulting form women’s foot binding), "vigor", "strong vigor" (from male dancers) as well as amusement by men chasing after women and vice versa. Chinese traditional aesthetic concepts are fully embodied in playing the drums, pace, and changes of formation with distinctive local color. As the symbolic instrument of this dance, taipinggu, on its crafts and its combination with dance movements, has already been beyond its simple function as an instrumental sound carrier, becoming an artifact indicating a strong geographic culture of this area. And it is a symbol of cultural identity of local people.
Taipinggu was originated, developed and thrived among civilians. People were and are fond of it, and old artists have devoted themselves to it. All these may account for its continuity. In return, to carry forward and to innovate the art will make folk artists’ lives full of vigor.
Gao Hongwei

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