(De'ang folk museum in Santai Mt. Village)
Santai Mountian , as its name implies, consists three peaks. A small village of De’ang ethinic minority settles among those peaks. The village is so little that it is not even indicated on the map of China. However, this De’ang village is indispensible in protecting and promoting De’ang ethnic culture nationwide since it is the home of a considerable percent of De’ang population--21% --in China and the largest De’ang folk museum also locates here. In this small district, distinctive De’ang folk artists gather to share their creations and venerable De’ang tea scents the air with a charming aroma.
The Namecard for Splendid and Mysterious De’ang Culture
In the past few years, Santai Mountain Village, unswervingly following the spirit of China’s seventeen sessions of six CCP plenary conferences and provincial strategic plan to rejuvenate the province through culture, attached great importance to cultivating and preserving traditional culture. Aiming at the cultural prosperity of De’ang ethnic, Santai Mt. Village made a efficient and effective plan.
“A harmonious society means not only the economic advancement but also the cultural development. Protecting the traditional culture is saving a precious fortune for our descendants.” Man XIangwen, the party secretary of the village said. Under the guidance of such vision, Santai Village made pragmatic steps in accordance with local conditions to actively establish a Der’ang culture preservation center in this region. Though the villagers have just made a start, but it was a quite successful one. Every person walking into this small village can immediately sense the unique characteristics of De’ang culture.
(De'ang folk artist)
Protecting and Preserving De’ang Culture to Revitalizing the Village
To achieve the cultural prospertity of the village, numerous measures are taken.
1) Cultivating Intangible Cultural Heritage. De’ang ethnic minority enjoys a colorful history of folk mythology, poetry and song. The ancient song titled as The Oldest Legend of Ancestors (《达古达楞格莱标》, pronounced as Da Gu Da Leng Ge Lai Biao) is an valuable epic passed from genration to generation by De’ang singers. The chant depicts the origin and development of De’ang ethnic, which is intertwined with the tea-cultivation history of De’ang people. In an effort to inherit this priceless tradition, the village organized a training class to encourage the learning of De’ang folk culture and strengthen the culture protection and preservation.. The target of the training is fostering a group of inheritors for one cultural tradition each year. Meanwhile, with the assistance form the De’ang folk culture museum, the village energetically engages in advocating the protection of local intangible cultural heritage.
2) Collecting and Protecting De’ang Traditional Songs. Since primitive ages, songs with different tunes and meanings have been accompanying various occasions in De’ang people’s lives such as weddings, funerals or religious celebrations. The majority of the songs were improvised at the occasion and sung by folk artists. The themes of those songs vary from fairy tales and legends in De’ang ethnic’s origin and vicissitudes through their history of longevity. Those songs, featured with beautiful melody and a slightly sorrowful note, are called the old songs by local folks. Under the impact of foreign culture infiltration, fewer and fewer artists with the skills to sing those songs are left. To address this situation, Santai Mt. Village devotes more efforts into old song colleting and looks for folk artists who can sing the songs or willing to learn. The village opens up singing class and forms a singing squad of folk singers. Yang Lazuo, who participates in old song collecting, told the reporter that after a enduring collective endeavor, minor accomplishments are achieved in old song collecting and a collection disc is in procession right now in the Dehong prefectural bureau of culture.
3)Reviving De’ang Water-drum Dance. The De’ang water-drum, as known as “Ge Lengdang” , is famous for the special feature as certain amount of water is injected into the drum to make a maestoso and bass sound. The spectacular and exciting water-drum dance is a group dance with the accompaniment of this ancient musical instrument. In the November of 2009, a water-drum dance team from White Gourds Village competed in the national folks dance and song competition in Jiangxi Province and was entitled with the highest award, the “Mountain Flower “Award. In recent years, Santai Mt. Village has invested considerate amount of money into the regular water-drum dance training for White Gourds teams and other performance squads. At the same time, due to the continuous cultivation of dancers, almost every natural village in Santai Mountian district has its own crackajack dancers. .Currently, more and more local people join in the dancing team and the water-drum dance become a routine performance in all the grand celebrating events throughout the prefecture. The eye-catching dance gradually become a effective medium in the promotion of De’ang culture and raise the popularity of water-drum dance.