After visiting Huanggushu Waterfall in Anshun county, on the way back to Guiyang, highly recommend you to stop at Tianlong Tunpu, where you can enjoy a typical local opera - Ground Opera. In Chinese, it sounds like DiXi. Ask every local people they will tell you what it is! Now in Tianlong Tunpu, there are presentation of 20 minute play for tourist, for you have a basic understand of what it is like. Ask locals when it is the time for next show.
Most of the popular operas are based on historical battle stories, such as Wars between Chu and Han, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the History of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and Generals of the Yang Family. These stories have been told for hundreds of years but still remain fresh.
The local farmers are the players. They wear fancy wooden masks carved of wood, and dress in cloth shoes, unadorned robes, with banners on their backs and weapons in their hands. Around 40 to more than 100 different masks will be used in each opera. When performing, the players cover their faces with black gauze before placing the masks on their forehead. To the tempos of gongs and drums, the performers wielding wood swords and folding fans, sing the ancient folk stories. Their performance is full of enthusiasm and vibrates with long, loud, resonant voices.
The history of Ground Opera
Ground Opera can be traced back to the 14th century during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when the armed forces of North China entered Guizhou. Originally it is a sacrificial ceremony performed by the soldiers in Tunpu area of Anshun, Guizhou, to entertain the gods and ask for victory in battle.
Ground Opera is a unique culture deriving from Jun Nuo of early Ming Dynasty. It develops from military Nuo to civilian Nuo, from Nuo show to Nuo opera, and it is the product of two-way choice from Nuo ritual and Nuo opera. With the passage of the time, Ground Opera gradually turns into a free gathering entertainment in Tunpu villages.
Generally speaking, one village organizes one or two performance groups. During the Spring Festival, the players perform not on stage but on vacant land near the village, with the size of the playing area determined by the number of masked actors involved in the performance.
Battles are a popular theme in the dramas, which are adapted from such traditional favorites as Romance of the three Kingdoms, History of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and Generals of the Yang Family. Aggressive looking, Ground Operas celebrate the wars and ancient heroes of this nation.
The earliest record of Ground Opera is seen in Local Records of Huizhou during the reign of Jia Jing in Ming Dynasty, in which ancient funny comedies, Didi dance, Hu dance and masked opera are performed to welcome Wang Gong in Shezhou, Anhui. Carrying Wang Gong of Ground Opera in Anshui villages can be traced to the same origin of masked opera. Ground Opera, its chief purpose is to carry out military practice, strengthen defense preparations and improve battle efficiency of southward troops. On the other hand, Ground Opera aims to satisfy cultural and spiritual requirements for the troops and local people. Through the inheritance and development by Tunpu people, Ground Opera forms a unique opera in the world.