The story appears on

Page C2 - C3

August 10, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Summer comes alive as thousands sing and dance in celebration

SITTING next to Tibet Autonomous Region, the high plateaus of western China's Qinghai Province are a harsh and unforgiving landscape most of the year. But in July and August, the summer sun warms the land and its myriad ethnic minority communities.

Late last week the Tibetan people in the area south of the Qinghai Lake celebrated the summer with a five-day festival of singing, dancing, horsemanship and other games. This year's festivities, the first of its kind, marked a colorful celebration.

The Gajuewu Festival in Chengduo County went ahead as peace has since reigned in Qinghai's Tibetan areas.

The festival attracted more than 10,000 people from surrounding counties and villages.

In the vast swaths of hilly grassland surrounding Chengduo, thousands of white tents were set up by these temporary visitors between the verdant green grass and clear blue sky.

Scheduled performances featured the long tradition of song and dance in the region.

Six troupes from surrounding villages, each with its own style, performed at the festival.

Dances featured long swirling sleeves of bright pink and green, and heavy ornate jewelry that jingled to the beat.

"The Tibetan culture in this part of Qinghai, the Kangba culture, is characterized by song and dance," says Luozhou, a researcher from the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Center. Luozhou, a Tibetan himself, comes from Labu Village, 50 kilometers away.

"In my hometown there's a saying, 'if you can walk, you can dance; if you can speak, you can sing'," he says.

Luozhou says Kangba is a river culture inspired by the Tiantong River which flows through the area, giving birth to the societies along its banks. This small, good-natured river flows into the mighty Yangtze River in its lower regions.

In addition to the major festival in Chengduo this year, smaller festivities will be held at local villages and towns all along the river later this month. Families will pitch tents by the river and enjoy good food, good company and, of course, singing and dancing.

In Chengduo, there are also contests of skill and strength including horse racing, rifle shooting on horseback and even yak racing. There is also a sandbag-lifting challenge and a tug-of-war.

Tibetan families dressed in their finest traditional costumes come en masse to enjoy the spectacle.

Large extended families are common here with many relatives spread over surrounding villages and towns hundreds of kilometers apart. The festival is a chance to meet and celebrate together.

Families often start preparing for the festival a week in advance. Luxurious tents, made of modern waterproof materials but with ornate decorative prints, are fully furnished in the style of a Tibetan sitting room with beds, sofas, wooden tables, TV and even Buddhist shrines.

Jiumei Cairen, a Tibetan middle school teacher from a neighboring town, began preparing for the festival three days before it kicked off and came with his extended family of 13 and a tent the size of a small room.

Inside it was fully furnished with five metal beds, four wooden tables, a 61-centimeter TV, DVD player and speakers, two sofas and a Buddhist shrine transported to the site on a large truck.

With another smaller tent at the back housing a makeshift kitchen, they were settled very comfortably for the five days of the festival. For their guests, who numbered around 20 a day, there was a plentiful spread of fruit, sweets, biscuits and Tibetan milk tea.

Other herdsman brought their sheep and cows to graze on the surrounding hillside along with the horses taking part in the show.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend