Taking place across the ethnic Tibetan regions of China, traditional Guozhuang battles feature hundreds of colorfully dressed performers singing in complex group styles in a contest that can last for hours, if not days, Fang Aiqing reports.
“Time to leave. Time to leave. It’s getting dark. We’re about to cross the mountain now.
Don’t forget your parents, nor your brothers and sisters.”
At the age of 46, Bukreng still chokes up when she recalls the song that accompanied her wedding 23 years ago.
Born in 1944, veteran performer Xu Guilian sang the lyrics to the tune of a traditional Tibetan Guozhuang dance in front of the bride’s home in Benzilan town, Dechen Tibet autonomous prefecture, in Southwest China’s Yunnan province to an audience of around 100.
The song made such an impression on Bukreng that she still sheds a tear whenever she hears the tune today.
A listed national intangible cultural heritage, traditional Guozhuang dance is a type of group dance and singing without musical accompaniment that is popular with the ethnic Tibetan people of Yunnan, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu provinces and the Tibet autonomous region.
Benzilan, renowned for its Guozhuang dance tradition, sits along the Jinsha River, an upstream tributary of the Yangtze River described as the “golden sand river” due to its sandy waters. The town is located on the route from northwest Yunnan to Tibet.