"Northern Opera and Southern Song" on Hainan Island

By / / Updated: 2019-12-20,11:28

Hainan has the saying "Northern Opera Southern Song", the Northern Opera refers to the Qiong Opera in the north of the island, the Southern Song refers to the Yazhou folk songs in the south of Hainan.

In all seasons, the weather in the north of Hainan Island is relatively colder than in the south. Singying songs can be easy;and performing opera requires stage and costume, so that the northern part of the island is more suitable for the opera.This is one of the reason for saying "Northern Opera and Southern Song".

The performing of Qiong Opera requires stage, props, bands, make-up and some stylized things. Yazhou folk songs are not subject to stage, place and time. One person can sing, a group can sing, and everyone can sing under the tree or under the eaves. They can also sing by setting up the stage.

The folk songs of Yazhou can be free to sing, and become a kind of lyrical and entertaining way that the islanders in the southern part of Hainan Island are particularly fond of. The songs can drive away loneliness, bitterness,fatigue, and create joy.

"Northern opera" has a right time and place

In ancient times, the people had inconvenient traffic. Most of the manpower, material and other good resources that entered Hainan Island from the mainland were concentrated in the northern part of the island. The economy of the northern part of the island is relatively developed. Naturally,it can enjoy the advantage of being in a favourable position. The hardware and software required for Qiong Opera are not difficult to obtain. The prosperity of Qiong Opera in the north would take the lead.

The opera introduced to Hainan belongs to one of the operas in the Song and Yuan dynasties.In particular, Liyuan Opera, Gao Jia Opera from Southern Fujian and Zhengyin Opera and Chao Opera from East Guangdong were widely known as "Huguang Opera" at that time.

After the middle of Ming Dynasty, more and more merchants from Fujian and Guangdong came to Hainan Island. In order to protect the safety of business and trade, they always felt that what was missing on Hainan Island, they invited the gods of their hometown to Hainan. During the birthday of the gods, the rich persons asked the troupe in his hometown to come to Hainan Island to perform on stage. This gave the gods and local people a big favor, bringing fresh entertainment to the local area. Their business seemed to have a strong protection from the gods, thus gaining psychological comfort.

In the Ming Dynasty,the emperor was beyond his reach for Haikou.Restrictions on various operations on the sea were relatively loose, the commercial atmosphere was strong, and the entertainment industry was lively. As a poem says:"The vast majority of ships were parked in Baishajin,Huguang dramas were often sung all night long." Most of the Han Chinese in Hainan were from southern Fujian and eastern Guangdong. It was not easy for the merchants to return to their hometowns. They were more willing to hear the voice of their hometowns in the local area. Therefore,theatrical performances from their hometowns were very popular. The artists from other areas not only perform acting, but also set up classes and teach performances. The earliest dramas in Hainan gradually appeared.

The dialect of the northern part and southern part of the island belong to the Hainan dialect of the Minnan(southern Fujian) language family, but the Hainan dialect of the northern part is a little different from the Hainan dialect of the southern part. The Hainan dialect of southern part is more uniquely identified. The identification system is difficult to understand for the people outside the region, and it is not so easy to talk about. The Hainan dialect of the northern part is generally accepted and spoken by the cities and counties in the north of the island,it is roughly the same, and the differences are more reflected in the tone. Therefore, the singing of Qiong Opera is common to the northern part of the island, and there are no obvious obstacles.

Perhaps it is not difficult for Yazhou people to learn Qiong opera, but it is not so convenient for the the northern part people of the island to learn the Yazhou folk songs. These differences have resulted in two forms of artistic performance: one area mainly performing Qiong Opera, and the other mainly singing folk songs.

"Southern Song" is not so much stressful

Relatively speaking, there are many songs in the south and west, and much more Qiong Opera performing in the north and east of Hainan Island. There are traces of spring, summer, autumn and winter alternation in the northern part of Hainan.The performance of Qiong Opera is exquisite in costumes. Except for the hot summer season, there is no serious problem in wearing costumes in the north of the island.

The seasons of the southern part on the island are always hot just like the summer. If you want to perform the Qiong Opera seriously, to be the “emperor” would be wearing too much. Even if you play “maid”, at least you have to wear long sleeves,and inevitably sweating. Singing is not so particular, just to be comfortable and happy. The prosperity of southern folk songs is not surprising.

The most humble stage of Qiong Opera has at least one pile of earth and stone. If you ask for more,you should have a courtyard,and there is a stage in it. If the stage is in the theater,it means that the performers can enter the noble hall. There are not so many routines in Yazhou folk songs. It seems to be more suitable for singing in the breeze of the wilderness.It even means that”where there is a song there is a stage”. In the village entrance,under the tree or at home, the villagers have a strong interest to sing with their relatives and friends.Lively music and impromptu lyrics make people happy in entertainment.

There are many mountains in Sanya and Ledong, and flat places are also common. Most of the local villages are built along the foothills which are suitable for reclamation. Although a bit dry, the land is still fertile, houses next to each other, no shortage of entertainment space. The villagers usually plant sour trees and jackfruit trees in the front yard of the house. Mango trees and banana trees are the harmonious scenery between man and nature. They have created a good communication space for the inheritance and development of traditional culture such as Yazhou folk songs. They also created conditions to appreciate each other for their songs. The villagers met in the field, on the land, at the village market, or at a courtyard, they can improvise and sing, and express their enthusiasm.

The geographical location and tropical climate of Hainan Island are special. During the Spring Festival, it is a good time for the islanders to relax, but for Hainan, is a busy season for spring planting. During the spring ploughing, the villagers worked in the fields at the end of the field. When they were exhausted, they needed to seek happiness in hardships, and fill the spiritual world. The inspiration for poetry writing was raging, the Yazhou folk songs sang between the blue sky and the white clouds.

The Yazhou folk songs are closely related to the lives of the people. "Tianya  Chinese Text" has such a statement: Zhang Yuanlai, the chairman of Sanya Yazhou Folk Song Association, also sang the Yazhou folk songs when cooking at home, the melody of folk songs and the pots and pans played together. Even he went up the mountain to cut wood,he could sing folk songs when he was bored,and feel particularly enjoyable after singing.

Zhang Yuanlai also raised the hobby of Yazhou folk songs to the way of health. He said that he wants to live longer, sing a Yazhou folk song, and eat a bowl of Gangmen rice noodle to keep healthy. He used to think that jogging is the best way to exercise. Now, it is found that singing is a good way to prolong life.

Perhaps, the performance of the Qiong opera made the audience more passively accepted and less creative; actively compose and sing folk songs can mobilize one's more potential.

The Yazhou poems are often lyrics, and the lyrics are poetry. The probability of being modified and second-time creation is high. For example, the lyrics are like this: "The young man sighs without knowing the hardship, life is not as good as the spring breeze, spring returns next spring, and the old people are not young again." The lyrics so deduced can make the singer realize that life is impermanent and time goes. The principle of non-return for life is profound but easy to understand.

For a long time, Ledong county has many cultural celebrities, and it must have benefited from the scent and revelation of Yazhou folk songs.

Yazhou folk songs have strong accents

The Yazhou folk songs use the unique southern "guest dialect" on the island, "unique" is not bad, but it is not conducive to widespread dissemination.

Many scholars believe that the Yazhou folk songs originated in the Song Dynasty. The Song Dynasty was a watershed for Hainan immigrants, that is, the Han people began to land in large numbers on the island. It is in this context that the Yazhou folk songs are born, that is, the folk songs need to have the premise of "dialects", or a large ethnic group that needs to speak this dialect.

The appearance of the "guest dialect" is used to some extent to defend and identify each other. The Yazhou "Guest dialect" is a natural musical language with humorous and musical feelings. Yazhou folk songs have the characteristics of local  dialects.

"Yazhou Chronicle" records: "There are six kinds of Yazhou language, Jun, Mai, Hakka, Fanyu, Danyu and Liyu", among which "Guest dialect" is similar to the Minnan voice, like the dialect of "Yongning Li, Lin Chuanli, Baopingli and Xiliuli”, the same as the county dialect. The "guest dialect" mentioned here is the dialect used to sing the folk songs of Yazhou. It is also a representative dialect of the ancient Yazhou.

The rules for ethnic migration are usually the first to be the “host”and the latter to be the”guest”. The singers of Yazhou folk songs often use the "guest dialect", which infers that they are the "post-entertainers" of Yazhou land. When they first arrive, there will be more grief and sorrow in the "extraordinary strange land". This kind of emotion is not difficult to find the imprint in the lyrics and tune of the Yazhou folk songs.

The southern and western parts of the island are often the first choice for derogatory officials’s exiles, but such "arrangements" also give derogatory officials a valuable cultural luster to the local people. Su Dongpo shines in the west of Danzhou, and Yazhou once left the footprints and poetic influences of of derogatory officials such as Lu Duoxun,the prime minister of the Northern Song Dynasty.The roots of Yazhou folk songs must be related to this.

The Song Dynasty was the most immigrant period in the history of Yazhou. Later, the arrival of derogatory officials and a large number of immigrants also brought excellent cultures from different regions of Central Plains. A variety of outstanding talents and advanced culture gathered in Yazhou, achieving the literacy accumulation of Yazhou's Chinese poetry.The wisdom of Yazhou folk songs has also been sublimated.

In the past,the environment created by Yazhou folk songs was relatively closed. Hainan Island was separated by the strait and there were few opportunities for frequent contact with the outside world. Therefore, the evolution of Yazhou folk songs has always been authentic, without losing the original intention, and the songs always sung in the "guest dialect" from southern Fujian. Adhering to the historical customs and cultural heritage of the Han nationality along the coast of the southern part in Hainan, the songs have relative uniqueness and high recognition. Yazhou people who are deeply influenced by the Yazhou folk songs have special innate feeling for their songs. In the passage of time, the people tasing and singing folk songs of Yazhou have become an important medium for them to return homes, visit the homeland,relish the nostalgia and recall the past in the southern part of Hainan.


































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