Shifan is the instrumental music played by percussion. It is composed of Shifan drum, Qu drum, Sha drum, Qiaoxin gong, Dawen gong, Gaobian gong, Danbian, big cymbal, Fei cymbal, and Xiangluo. The Fei cymbal (also known as Feichi) is not struck in a conventional way. Instead, a rope of two or three feet long is attached to the top of the cymbal, and the rope is swept. At present, this kind of cymbal performance has not been found in other places in the country.
Foshan is a thousand-year-old city and one of the birthplaces of Lingnan culture, which has rich historical and cultural resources. It now has 38 national and provincial intangible cultural heritages, including 14 national-level ones.
Eight-tone gong and drum is folk music that includes three performance forms: an ensemble of Chinese wind and percussion instruments, eight tone singing, and gongs and drums.
Guangdong Lion Dance
The Lion dance is a folk dance that integrates dance, martial arts, and music. The lion dance in Guangdong was born from the lion dance in the palace of the Tang Dynasty. After the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, as the Central Plains immigrants moved south, the lion dance culture also spread to the Lingnan area. In order to avoid the taboos of imperial power, folk artists took a different approach and created another lion shape and lion dance form, which was circulated among the people. It originated in Foshan in the Ming Dynasty.
Guanghua village is located in Xingtan town, Shunde District, Foshan City. It is a distinctive Lingnan water town with profound folk culture. It is also a famous town of Southern martial arts. It is said that the dragon dance had already started in Guanghua village in the middle of Qing Dynasty. In 1871, Liang Yaoshu, a native of Guanghua village, came first in the highest imperial examination. The villagers of Guanghua village cheered. The martial arts experts of the village launched a dragon dance to welcome Liang Yaoshu to return to his hometown. At that time, the human dragon dance performed by 180 people had a huge impact. Since then, dragon dance has been an indispensable part of the Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, and other festivals in Guanghua village. The custom has been handed down from generation to generation.
Cantonese opera originated in the Ming and Qing dynasties in the central part of the Pearl River Delta, Foshan. Foshan was also a martial arts center where masters gathered. It had many temples and theatre stages. People entertained themselves by making shows about life stories or martial arts to honor gods. These shows became a part of tens of thousands of villagers and handicraft workers’ life.
Narrating and Singing
on the Dragon Boat
Dragon Boat songs have a long history. According to Foshan Historical and Cultural Dictionary, dragon boat songs originated in Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty. It was first created by a broke man in Longjiang, Shunde. As an art combining narrating and singing, from a mere narrative genre of singing to being used in social propaganda, the content of singing often changes according to the needs of the times.
Woodcut New Year pictures have a long history. According to the description of Guangdong Cultural Relics, “the front door is engraved with a tea garden, which is in line with the eaves”, which proves that the custom of putting up pictures made with woodcut New Year images was popular in Guangzhou and Foshan during the Han Dynasty. The production of woodcut New Year pictures in Foshan was prosperous from Qianlong and Jiaqing periods of Qing Dynasty to the Anti-Japanese war.
Foshan Paper Cutting
Foshan paper-cutting dates back to the Song and Yuan dynasties and has become a commodity production. It flourished during the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty. Foshan’s paper-cutting art has two major types of production: cutting and carving. Paper-cutting is based on folk paper-cutting and arose with commodity production and the needs of the masses. The paper carving uses Foshan’s distinctive copper foil and colored paper as the main materials, which has a unique local style such as rich colors and vigorous boldness.
Shiwan Pottery Skills
The art of Shiwan pottery sculpture has a long history and is widely spread. Its unique style has always been cherished by the society and is a wonderful work of Chinese folk art.
Foshan Lion Head
Lion head plays an important part in the lion dance. It is the traditional folk art crafts of Foshan and the representative of lion head art in southern China. Since it was created in the Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty, it has not only represented the image of the lion dance in Guangdong but also has been recognized as the representative work of Eastern folk art.
Foshan Colored Lanterns
Colored lanterns are traditional handicrafts in Foshan City, Guangdong Province. It is one of the main schools of traditional lantern art. It includes four categories: large-scale lanterns and head-lamps, group lamps of characters and stories, and regular lanterns. The whole process of making lanterns is manually operated by artists. Foshan colored lanterns are the representative of Chinese folk lanterns, a wonderful work of Lingnan folk art, and an important part of the cultural life of the masses.
Dyeing and Finishing
Techniques of Xiangyun Yarn
The sericulture and silk reeling industry in Shunde have a long history and brilliant achievements. As far back as the Huizong period of the Northern Song Dynasty, mulberry planting and silkworm rearing had been started in Longjiang and Longshan areas. From the middle of Qing Dynasty to the Republic of China, Shunde became the silk capital of South China due to the vigorous development of the silk reeling industry. The prosperity of silkworm and silk reeling industry promoted the further development of textile industry and printing and dyeing industry. Yunsha (Xiangyunsha) was particularly famous.
Lantern Parade in Foshan
Lantern Parade referred to the local people holding a celebration parade during the autumn agricultural harvest, also commonly known as Colors of Autumn or Autumn Lantern Festival. It has been held for many years. It is said that in the Yongle period of Ming Dynasty (1403-1425), one night after the autumn harvest, a group of children made a dragon with some plants, put incense on it, and waved it to drum music. Later it had developed into a recreational activity, and the content was increasingly rich. And it has become the autumn scenery of Foshan with local characteristics.
Birthday of Beidi in
Beidi, also known as Xuanwu, Zhenwu, etc., is the God of water and can prevent fires. The celebration of Beidi’s birthday in Ancestral Temple of Foshan is popular in the Pearl River Delta. There was a river named Guoluoshui near the Ancestral Temple. The Beidi Temple was built here for the prayers of safe access and waterways. Since the Song Dynasty, Foshan had been a famous iron smelting center in Lingnan. People thought highly of Beidi as Beidi is the God of water and fire prevention.
The Xing Tune in Singing
The Xing Tune is unique in the Pinghou tune of the Cantonese opera. It was created in the 1930s by Xiao Mingxing, one of the four Pinghou Masters (Xu Liuxian, Zhang Yueer, Li Huifang, Xiao Mingxing). It was artistic and influential.
Foshan woodcarving is one of the two major schools of woodcarving in Guangdong (Chaozhou woodcarving and Foshan woodcarving). Foshan woodcarving can be divided into two categories: practical decorative woodcarving and appreciating furnishings, among which practical decorative woodcarving is the most distinctive. The carving techniques include hollowing out, line carving, thin carving, embossing, high embossing, multi-level high embossing etc.
The traditional custom of “xingtongji” has been spread in Foshan for more than 300 years. It is widely participated by Foshan citizens. “Xingtongji” refers to local events where Foshan citizens visit the Tongji Bridge on the 16th day of the first lunar month annually in the hoping of welcoming the good luck of the coming year.
Guanyao Lettuce Club
In the old days, after the folks in Guanyao visited the local temple and prayed for wealth and kids, they ate lettuce buns because the name for lettuce buns sounded like “kids guarantee” in Chinese. The lettuce was crispy and refreshing, liked by the old and the young. Later people ate lettuce buns in the hope of receiving good luck, which has continued to this day.
Le’an Lantern Festival
Le’an Lantern Festival has a long history. As early as the third year of Hongwu reign of Zhu Yuanzhang in the Ming Dynasty, there was the custom of lantern celebration on the 15th of the first lunar month
Foshan’s Spring Festival customs are the grandest and longest local festival custom, from the twelfth lunar month of the year to the 26th of the first lunar month of the second year.
The Spring Festival customs in Foshan can be roughly divided into three categories according to their forms and time: preparation, celebrating the new year, and praying for good luck. The custom of praying for blessings during the Spring Festival is rich in content, diverse in forms, and distinctive. The main ones include visiting the Ancestral Temple on the first day of the new year, praying for blessings, Lantern Festival, Xingtongji etc.
Chencun Flower Fair
The Chencun Flower Fair is a large-scale winter flower fair held in Chencun Town, Shunde District, Foshan City. It is held ten days before the Spring Festival. The entire flower fair stretches for more than 10 kilometers, and the average number of visitors is about 300,000. With a strong atmosphere, it is a Spring Festival Flower Fair with important influence in the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong, Macao and overseas.
Brewing Techniques of
Shiwan Yubingshao Baijiu
Shiwan Yubingshao is a representative product of Chinese soy-flavored liquor. It was founded in 1895 and has been passed down through generations. yubingshao is produced by Shiwan Taiji Distillery (formerly Chen Taiji Distillery) in Chancheng District, and its products are sold at home and abroad.
Yubingshao baijiu is a semi-solid fermented low-alcohol liquor, It is brewed with rice as raw material and uses the unique traditional technique of Chen Taiji Distillery. After the rice is cooked and cooled, the rice is mixed with the large liquor cake specially made by traditional secret method in proper proportion, and saccharified and fermented for about 20 days; the mature mash is distilled in a kettle to obtain liquor of about 30 degrees, commonly known as Zhai wine. After being stored for a certain period of time, Zhai wine will be soaked in a ceramic vat containing meat. After soaking the meat, the liquor was extracted, aged, blended and filtered into Yubingshao.
of Jiujiang Double
The traditional brewing technique of Jiujiang double-steamed wine mainly uses rice as raw materials and makes koji with rice and soybean. Liquor is brewed by adding steamed rice, re-fermenting, cooling and distilling liquor, storing zhaijiu, soaking meat, carefully blending, filtering, and packaging.
Huagu Tune is traditional music with a history of more than 100 years. In addition to playing it in weddings, it can also be performed on stage, which is very popular among audiences.
Wing Chun Boxing
Wing Chun boxing was introduced during the Daoguang period by Huang Huabao and Liang Erdi. Liang Zan inherited the two and developed Wing Chun boxing to a new level. Therefore, Wing Chun boxing took root in Foshan and passed on.
Cai Li Fo Boxing
Cai Li Fo Boxing was created by Chen Xiang, the first generation master, and Zhang Yan, the second generation master. It has a history of more than 160 years. It is not only popular in Guangdong, but also in Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia. There are 49 routines in this boxing, divided into elementary level, intermediate level and advanced level.
Traditional Dragon Boat
Races in Jiujiang
Dragon boat racing in Jiujiang has been popular since the Qing Dynasty. Dragon boats could be found in various villages. The local people regarded dragon boat rowing as a folk custom that was entertaining with a festive atmosphere. It has been passed down to this day and has profound historical and cultural connotations.
Shiwan Dragon Kiln Technique
Shiwan kiln had used dragon kiln as early as the Northern Song Dynasty, and its technique has a history of more than 1000 years.
There are three dragon kilns in Shiwan, among which Nanfeng Ancient Kiln and Gao Kiln are the key cultural relics protection units in China.
Nanhai Rattan Weaving
In the Tang Dynasty, the rattan mats woven by Nanhai were used as a tribute to the imperial court. Later, rattan weaving in Nanhai became the main pillar industry for exporting foreign exchange. Most of its products were sold to more than 30 countries and regions, such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. Today, it is still the leader of rattan industry.
Gold Foil Forging Technique
Gold foil forging technique had been introduced into Foshan for nearly a thousand years. In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Foshan gold foil industry entered its heyday. There were more than 30 large and small guilds with thousands of employees.
Feng Liaoxing Medicinal Liquor
Feng Liaoxing medicinal liquor was created in the late Ming Dynasty by Feng Guolin. After his son Feng Liaoxing was in charge of the pharmacy, he changed the name of Wanying Medicinal Liquor to Feng Liaoxing Medicinal Liquor and named the pharmacy Feng Liaoxing Pharmacy. The authentic Feng Liaoxing stores have been passed down from generation to generation in Foshan Town for hundreds of years.
Yuan Jilin Ganhe Tea
The formula of Yuan Jilin Ganhe tea was created in 1892 and has a history of more than 110 years. It has been called “box tea” by the local people because of the packaging.
Etiquette and Customs
of Yanbu Laolong
Yanbu Laolong (the old dragon boat) has a history of more than 570 years. It is grand in size, classical in shape. It is said that it originated from a dragon race between Yanbu and Pantang in the Wanli period of the Ming Dynasty. Pantang won the championship in an unusual way. The elders of Pantang believed that the championship should belong to Yanbu. Later, the two sides humbly gave up the prizes and finally reconciled. Since then, during the Dragon Boat Festival every year, the two sides have been visiting each other.
Nanhai, Foshan, is one of the birthplaces of Guangdong embroidery. Nanhai embroidery has been popular in the Qin and Han dynasties. It was mostly made by women. In Tang Dynasty, Nanhai embroidery became famous all over the country and was one of the “four famous embroidery” in China.
Cantonese tunes is a variety of operas sung in the Cantonese dialect. It is mainly popular in the Pearl River Delta and other Cantonese dialect regions, and spread to Southeast Asia, Chinese inhabited areas in America.
The Xiqiao Daxian Birthday Temple Fair has a history of more than 100 years. It is a folk event where the people pay respects to the birthday of Lv Chunyang on April 14 of the lunar calendar.
Zhenbutang Astronomical Calendar
Zhenbutang astronomical calendar refers to the astronomical calendar calculation model and the compilation method, content and rules of the astronomical calendar established by the Cai family of Shunde Longjiang in the Guangxu period of the Qing Dynasty and continued to this day. In terms of astronomical calendar calculation, Zhenbutang follows the astronomical algorithms of the past dynasties, and integrates Western astronomy and mathematical calculation methods into Chinese classical astronomy, and constantly pursues the perfect coordination of the calculation mode of the solar and lunar cycles in the calendar, so as to realize the calendar cultural thinking of the unity of Yin and Yang.
Folk Belief (Guanyin Belief)
Guanyin is commonly known as the Goddess of Mercy. Since the Song Dynasty, there had been temples in Shunde dedicated to Guanyin, such as Ronggui Guanyin Hall and Longjiang Ziyun Pavilion. It is said that the 26th day of the first month is the day when Guanyin checks the Treasury every year. And then Guanyin will open a large number of Treasury to help the people. The local people go to the Guanyin Temple to pray for wealth in the coming year. If people do get wealthier, they can do good deeds to “return” the wealth that they have “borrowed” from Guanyin.
Foshan is a place full of magic and mystery. The old and the new blend together to create the new modern Foshan with strong connections to its history and culture. Make sure to enjoy and learn about the culture and history of Foshan through the many activities, customs, holidays, and traditions it happily shares every day.