1. Dragon Lantern
Dragon lantern in Xupu County is a rather primitive craft made of bamboo and paper. It uses candle as its light source. According to historical documents, it originated in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) and was the prototype of Chinese dragon-shaped lantern. It is said that Xupu is the only place which preserves the primitive type of lantern. The performance of Xupu dragon lantern always draws a large audience.
2. Small Dragon Lantern
Small dragon lantern is played by two performers who practice martial arts. In the performance, one manipulates the small dragon lantern, while the other waves another lantern.
3. Silkworm-Shaped Lantern
Silkworm-shaped lantern comprises a pair of lanterns, each with three performers. China is the home of silk with a long history of sericulture, and Xupu is the only place using lantern to cherish the sericulture in China.
4. Gooseneck Lantern
Gooseneck lantern is full of local features and is usually painted in various colors with performers imitating actions of the goose.
5. O’huo Lantern
O’huo lantern uses candle as its light source and is performed by seven young men and named after the chants sung by the performers.
6. Shrimp-Shaped Lantern
Shrimp-shaped lantern comprises a red lantern and a green lantern, each with three performers and is used to support the performance of other two performers who play as a fishing couple.
7. Lion Lantern
Lion lantern is made of paulownia wood and white cloth and is performed by two persons to the accompaniment of drum and gong.
8. Girl Lantern
Girl lanterns are only performed by girls who practice martial arts in the daytime from the 1st day to the 15th day of the 1st month of Chinese lunar calendar.
1. Mountain Chants
Mountain chants are rich in content and diverse in tune, including solo, antiphonal and group singing. Without instrumental accompaniment, they are work songs sung by people in the mountainous areas of western Hunan.
2. Mountain Songs
Xupu mountain songs are lyrical and full of local features. The singing is smooth and sublime with forms including solo singing and antiphonal singing. Each line is composed of seven characters, four lines comprise a section that will be sung repeatedly. In Xupu, it is customary for men and women to get engaged through singing mountain songs.
3. Work Songs
Local people like to singing work songs when doing farm work at mountains and in rice paddies. The lyrics are basically in rhyme. When singing, one person plays the drum, one plays the gong, and the crowd sings along while working.
4. Yu Drum
One of traditional folk art forms performed by one person who sings in Chenhe Gaoqiang (a high-pitched singing style) and plays the Yu drum, the cymbal and a bamboo clapper and named after its accompaniment drum, a percussion instrument made of bamboo.
5. Three-Stick Drum
Three-stick drum involves narrative singing, percussion, and juggling. The drum team usually consists of three players who do not wear any makeups, one for singing seven-character regulated lines and playing the drum, one for playing the gong, and one for playing daggers or hairpins.
6. Lian Hua Lao
Known as clapper talk, Lian Hua Lao is a traditional art form. Performers talk and sing with a pair of bamboo clappers and put what they want to express into the performance, such as interesting stories of the past and present.
Xupu Paper Binding
With a long history, Xupu paper binding is derived from Chenhe Mulian Opera. The opera figures, animals and ancient architectures produced with the craft are lifelike, which have been praised by visiting UNESCO experts.
Chenhe Opera originating from Xupu County is known for its high-pitched singing style, its vocal solo tune sounds sonorous and energetic. Being able to move freely among the high, medium, and low ranges, it is noteworthy for the presentation of three different repertoires: high-stage performance (stage performance), low-stage performance (puppet show) and Wei Drum performance (sitting singing). According to historical documents, it evolves from ritual performances of local witchcraft and Taoism, and is called the living fossil of Chinese drama.
Yang Drama evolves from festive lantern and boat lantern opera. It is popular among the locals for its simple and mass-based tune.
Xupu puppet show enjoys a long history with its origin of Nuo Drama in the west of Hunan Province. The puppet show is known for the exquisite design and careful carving of the puppets which are not only for splendid appearance but also for marvelous stunt shows.
Dragon Boat Racing
Xupu was the exiling place of Qu Yuan, a Chinese patriotic poet from Chu Kingdom during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). On the Dragon Boat Festival (Xupu people celebrate two Dragon Boat Festivals which are on the 5th day and 15th day of the 5th month of Chinese lunar calendar respectively), local people hold dragon boat races in the Yuanshui River and Xushui River to honor the memory of Qu Yuan, which draw a large audience. According to Hunan chorography, dragon boat racing originated in Wuling area, and Xupu is the birthplace of the dragon boat race.
(Translated by Yang Hong)