Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, “Cultivation of Talents for Folk Art Criticism of Southern Minorities” was a folk art annual program in 2020. On July 16th, Peng Xiuyin, the chief professor of the School of Literature, led students of the program to visit Lichuan, Enshi to explore the unique local ethnic cultural symbols and disseminate the southern minority folk art represented by Lichuan.
The Lichuan tour is an essential part of the program. The first stop was the town of Baiyangba, the birthplace of the outstanding folk song “Dragon-Boat Song”, where Tan Qinqin, the region representative inheritor of the national intangible heritage project “Lichuan Lantern Song”, warmly received the team members. Not only did she lead the team to sing the traditional Lichuan folk songs, such as “Five-sentence Folk Song” and “Lotus Box”, but also taught them to learn the local dance “Home of Dragon-Boat Song”. The team members personally experienced the charm of Lichuan intangible heritage.
Team members also visited the Da Shui Jing Ancient Architecture Group, Tujia stilts, Lichuan Black Tea Culture Base, Root Carving Museum, Dragon-boat Township and other places, and experienced the traditional craft of Mao Dam raw lacquer and the wonders of Xilankapu.
To deepen the understanding of the students about Tujia folk art and ethnic culture, Professor Peng organized interviews and exchanges with local folk art experts and leaders of the Cultural Tourism Bureau. Tan Zongpai, an expert in Lichuan folk culture, stressed the importance of original documents in folklore research. He emphasized that in order to better understand Lichuan folk culture, students should not only observe, but also discover the roots of history and culture, and trace the clues from literature, historical development and dialect. Liu Yang said she learned more about the original art in this tour and believes that it is worthwhile nowadays to think about how to nourish primitive art, so that more people may feel its magic charm.
On July 23rd, the eight-day tour came to an end, from which the participants collected a great amount of creative resources in folk songs, dances, architectural designs, etc. They were confident that they would be able to actively integrate their findings into the future creations, and strive to launch excellent works close to life with humanistic strength.
Edited by Yu Feng
Reviewed by Wang Huaigang