寧波走書 Ningbo Zoushu
Inscribed list: National List, Second Batch
Inventory no.: V-67
Nominating unit(s): Zhejiang Province, Ningbo City Yinzhou District, Fenghu City
Ningbo zoushu (寧波走書, literally "traveling storytelling") is the most representative form of accompanied narrative singing from Ningbo (寧波市), a major coastal city of Zhejiang province in eastern China. Although not as widely known as other Chinese narrative genres such as Suzhou pingtan (蘇州評彈), Ningbo zoushu is an authentic expression of Ningbo's local language and culture, along with Yongju (甬劇), Ningbo's most distinctive form of local opera, or difang xiqu (地方戲曲).
Ningbo zoushu, also known as "lihua wenshu" (犁鏵文書), began in the 19th century, during the late Qing Dynasty, during which time it was called "lianhua wenshu" (蓮花文書), and remained a very popular form of entertainment, not only in Ningbo proper, but in other nearby cities as well, through the 1950s and early 1960s. By the early 1990s, however, due to a declining number of performers, venues, and audience members, the genre appeared to have begun dying out. In the first decades of the 21st century, however, local pride among Ningbo people led to a decision that this art form should not be allowed to fade into oblivion, and efforts have been made both to make certain modifications to the tradition to suit contemporary realities and tastes, as well as to train young people to perform it. Festivals of Ningbo zoushu have been held, drawing many enthusiastic listeners, giving the genre a new life.
The leading instrument in Ningbo zoushu is the sihu (四胡), a huqin, or vertical fiddle, with four strings in double courses, which was very popular during the Qing Dynasty and which is still used to accompany some other Chinese narrative genres such as Jingyun dagu (京韻大鼓) from Beijing.
In 2008 Ningbo zoushu--centering on the Yinzhou District (鄞州區) and Fenghua District (奉化區)--was included in the second batch of 510 traditions inscribed in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of China (第二批國家級非物質文化遺產名錄).
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An extended performance of Ningbo zoushu. The story performed here is entitled "Xue Dingshan Conquers the West" (Xue Dingshan Zheng Xi ,《薛丁山征西》).
In this performance, the sihu is accompanied by a yangqin (揚琴, hammered dulcimer), and Sun Congmei (孫聰美), the primary singer, also plays pipa (琵琶).
Filmed at the Cixi Cultural Center (慈溪市文化館) in Cixi City (慈溪市), Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China.