Culture

A close-up shot of a Yingge performer in Puning, China, on 17 February 2024. (Screen grab from Anadolu Agency)

[Video] Yingge, 'Heroes’ Song': China’s ancient warrior dance

With painted faces and elaborate costumes, Yingge (英歌) performers stride and dance with power and vigour to the rhythmic beat of pounding drums. The fusion of opera, dance and martial arts culminates in an artistically distinct performance that is a part of China’s intangible cultural heritage.
Dragon dancers perform at a park on the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Beijing on 10 February 2024. (Greg Baker/AFP)

‘Loong’ or dragon?

There has been a recently renewed debate over whether the Chinese 龙 should be translated into English as "dragon" as it is currently known now, or whether there should be a new translation: “loong”. While there is some historical evidence that “loong” was actually one early translation, perhaps today it might be difficult for it to catch on.
Long table banquet held in Habo Village, Yunnan, China, on 3 January 2024. (CCTV)

[Video] Long Table Banquet: A thousand-people feast

China’s Long Table Banquet, a time-honoured tradition of the Miao, Dong, Hani, and Yi peoples, is a grand spectacle where thousands gather to indulge in a feast of delicacies and performances. Apart from ringing in the new year, the event is one of thanksgiving at the close of harvest season.
Shirtless performers strike molten iron at Xingyi, Qianxinan Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou province, China, on 27 January 2024. (NurPhoto via Reuters Connect)

[Video] Striking iron flowers: An art for the brave

In the 1000-year-old folk art of "Striking Iron Flowers" (打铁花), molten iron is struck with wooden rods to create sparks cascading through the sky like blossoming flowers. With temperatures of molten iron soaring to 1600°C, artisans bear countless scars across their bodies.
Shikumen houses in the Xintiandi area of Shanghai, before restoration work. (Photo: Kevin Sim Kwang Yang)

Shikumen houses: The first classrooms for the people of Shanghai

The TV series Blossoms Shanghai has revived interest in what life was like in Shanghai during the 1990s, in particular the lanes and shikumen houses unique to Shanghai that became a melting pot of people from different social statuses. Writer Shen Jialu takes us on a journey through old Shanghai.
The dragon in Singapore's Chinatown has four claws. (SPH Media)

Year of the Dragon: How to tell a 'real' dragon from a 'fake' one

Commentator Zhang Tiankan notes that the mythical Chinese dragon has gone through numerous iterations over a long history, and there is not one definitive version of it, much less one “correct” number of claws that it should have. As long as the general image is in line with its majestic and fantastical heritage, the number of claws is secondary.
Dr Yee Wai Seng wanted the plaque in the gallery’s collection as soon as he came to know of its existence.

Yuan Shikai's calligraphy on century-old plaque of old Singapore pharmacy

Yuan Shikai may be known as more of a military man and the second provisional president of the Republic of China, but he was also an accomplished calligrapher. One of his works is a plaque written for a store called Woi Fung Sheong Tim in Singapore, and after a century, it has been included in the collection of the Kwong Wai Siew Peck San Theng Heritage Gallery.
The Lion Grove Garden in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China. (Photo: Haryani Ismail)

Bai Juyi: This Tang dynasty poet enjoyed a good life

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai gives us a glimpse into the life of Tang dynasty poet Bai Juyi, whose later years were leisurely spent as a carefree and frivolous official often writing about the blazing heat of summer.
Zeng Fanzhi, Sparkling Paintings — Virgin and Child 1 (left) and 2 (right) (2019-2023).

Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi: Constructing a visual language all his own

Former director of the Singapore Art Museum Kwok Kian Chow shares his thoughts on reencountering the works of Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi at the Museum of Art Pudong, Shanghai.