苗族古歌 Miao ancient songs
Inscribed list: National List, First Batch
Inventory no.: I-1
Nominating unit(s): Guizhou Province, Taijiang County, Huangping County
苗族古歌主要以口相傳，包括祖先傳授、家庭傳授、師徒傳授、自學等形式，傳承這份屬於苗族的民族歷史。但因現代文化和市場經濟等方面的衝擊，苗族古歌瀕臨失傳，現時能完整唱出整部古歌的人已寥寥可數，而且這些人大多已經年事已高。貴州台江縣經過數年的努力，將收集到的苗族古歌編寫，並出版成《苗人的靈魂 – 台江苗族文化空間》一書，作為申報世界非物質文化遺產的文本。在2006年，苗族古歌被列入第一批國家級非物質文化遺產。
Miao ancient songs are creation myths of a poetic style, of the Miao people. Miao people live in southern China today. Not having their own written language, Miao ancient songs are therefore passed down orally.
The content of Miao ancient songs are based on myths. The songs are in a dialogue format with one person asking and the other person will sing to answer. The themes of the songs vary, from the birth of the Earth, to the origins of humans and all species, the beliefs and customs of the Miao people, and their way of life, including their clothing, and architecture. For example, one of the songs has a portion that mentions the metallurgical skills of the people, the bronze culture of the Miao people in the ancient period.
Miao ancient songs are normally sung in special occasions such as at rituals and sacrifices, weddings and funeral ceremonies, and gatherings with friends and relatives. And at traditional festivals. The singers are mostly the elders and necromancers. When they sing the ancient songs, the guests and other people will be divided to sit on two different sides. People will sing the songs by asking questions first and then the others will answer. The songs can be sung for several days. There are specific music instruments made of bamboo or wood that are used to accompany the singing of Miao songs.
Miao ancient songs are handed down orally. People learn the songs from their family or from a master. However, because of the modern culture, it is hard to continue this tradition. There are not many people who can still sing a complete Miao ancient song today, and those who still can are quite old. The tradition of Miao ancient songs is close to be lost. People from Taijiang County of Guizhou have made efforts to preserve this tradition. They have collected as many Miao ancient songs as they can, and published a book as the part of the application for the UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. In 2006, Miao ancient songs were included on the first batch of the National List of Intangible Heritage of China.
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