Friday, 21 July 2017

Daoquing Opera | Li Jianzeng

Photo © Li Jianzeng | All Rights Reserved
I'm currently immersed (well, partially) in research for what I hope may be a long term project, involving various types of Chinese Opera. It's a lot to chew on since Chinese Opera has innumerable varieties.

For instance, there's the well known Beijing Opera, known also as Peking Opera (Jing Ju), and which is regarded as the standard opera of China. There's also the Cantonese Opera, (known as Yue Ju) and that's performed in Cantonese; the Sichuan Opera which is also widely known in mainland China and is delivered in Mandarin; the Ping Opera (Ping Ju) which is easy for the audience to understand, and thus popular with rural communities and especially where people are not well educated. There's also the Henan Opera (Yu Ju), the Qinqiang Opera, the Kunqu Opera and the Huangmei Opera.

For this post, I am featuring a gallery by Chinese photographer Li Jianzeng* of the Daoqing opera popular among villagers in some of the poorest areas in northern Shaanxi province. It traces its roots to the Taoist belief system and evolved from Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) storytelling traditions. Li Jianzeng’s images take us to the countryside and behind the scenes to the lives of the performers.
These performances are the real thing...no artifical lighting, no show biz glamor, no sound effects...raw performances. It is the type of performances that I much prefer due to their unfiltered authenticity, and that I hope will be available in Ampang during the Ninth Emperor festival.

For more background, Daoqing opera originates from Taoist (or Daoist) stories in the Tang Dynasty and is a folk dramatic form which includes four kinds of stories: Daoist sanints, moralistic teachings, domestic life and historical events. It is only performed in Shanxi and Gansu provinces.

* I could not find a website for Jianzeng.