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17:04 Mar 05 2010

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Feature: Tashi Angjiang - inheritor of Tibetan Yi Dance
16:47, March 04, 2010  

Tashi Angjiang was still sweating all over after just finishing a rehearsal of the Yushu Tibetan Yi Dance in the Theater of the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in Beijing on Wednesday.

Tashi Angjiang (front) performs the Cho Dance and Yi Dance in the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in Beijing on March 3, 2010. The special performances from Qinghai Province, part of the Show Activities of China's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Minorities, were held in Beijing on March 3, 2010. (Xinhua/Sun Yunlong)

"The dancing boots weigh about 15 kg, so he should naturally be tired out," said Renqing Zhande, head of a song and dance troupe from the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province. He served as an interpreter of this interview since Tashi Angjiang knows a little Chinese.

Tashi Angjiang was preparing for the special performances from Qinghai Province, part of the Show Activities of China's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Minorities sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the State Ethnic Affairs Commission from Feb. 27 to March 30.

The performances involved different ethnic groups such as Tibetan, Hui, Tu and consisted of five parts, including seven Tibetan programs such as the Tibetan folk songs, Chigu Dance, Cho Dance, Yi Dance and the Zhamunie Singing with String Instrument.

The Yi Dance was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage. It is the combination of folk songs and dances with Tibetan characteristics. The dancing gestures originate from the horse riding, hunting and daily life of local farmers and herders.

His Yi Dance performance was part of the activities to show the precious intangible cultural heritage of minorities to more people.

Tashi Angjiang receives an interview with Xinhuanet in the Theater of the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in Beijing on March 3, 2010. (Xinhua/Sun Yunlong)

The activities involved twenty ethnic groups and about 2,000 performers of ethnic minorities. It was organized by the China Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center of the China Art Research Institute. About 20 national-level inheritors participated in the activities, according to an article published on the website of the Ministry of Culture.

To encourage more people to learn the heritage, the Central Government has taken various measures, such as allocating an annual 8,000 yuan(1,172 U.S. dollars) to each national-level inheritor of the intangible cultural heritage.

As the son of local dance masters, Tashi Angjiang began to learn dancing at the age of six; as the father of five children, he also taught his second son to learn the Yi Dance. Renowned in Yushu for his accomplishments in the Yi Dance, he said he had enjoyed his dancing life.

The 49-year-old Tibetan is currently a provincial-level inheritor and is ready to become a national-level inheritor.

"Qinghai Province has 39 national-level inheritors and more than 100 provincial-level inheritors," according to Deng Fulin, director of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the Qinghai Culture and Press and Publications Department. "We have tried hard to protect and inherit the intangible cultural heritage of minorities," he added.

However, there are also difficulties in the protection and inheritance of the heritage.

For example, the Chigu Dance in the performances was little known before and could only be performed by the residents of Nyinba Village, Xunhua Sala Autonomous County, Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.

"If we were not neighbors, we would never know such dances," said an official named Dacuo from Qinghai's Department of the Culture and Press and Publications when talking about the discovery of the dance.

The Chigu Dance was also included in the list of the national intangible heritage after the discovery.

This is the first time for the villagers to perform the dance outside their village.

"I never expect that they can perform such wonderful dances, and it's the first time for me to know such dances," a Beijing female citizen surnamed Jiang said after watching the show.

The Chigu Dance performers, farmers and herders in the village will return to work after the performances and may continue another round of performances for some festivals.

When the famous Tangka artwork was created with machines and low-quality paints, the traditional Buddhist art began to go commercial amid criticism.

"In fact, to make a living is the primary choice for many Tangka painters. Tangka masters still create wonderful paintings for one or two million yuan for collectors, but some other Tangka painters have to make a living and their artwork can also meet the needs of common people," Deng argued.

According to him, it is not easy for the Tangka art to balance artistry and returns.

Source: Xinhua

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