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The Lusheng of the Miao People
Courtesy of "China Southwest Airlines Bimonthly"

The Lusheng, a reed-type wind instrument, is often played by Miao or Dong ethnic people to celebrate their harvest or to worship ancestors. The length of a Lusheng ranges from two zhang (1 zhang=31/3 meters) of the longest one to one chi (1 chi =1/3 meter) of the shortest. Kaili, Huangping, Taijiang and Congjiang in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture formally or informally hold Lusheng fairs, among which the Gulong Miao Lusheng fair in Huangping on September 27 is the most representative one.

A Lusheng fair also includes items of building, horseracing, bird-fighting and cockfighting. As the time draw near, the Miao, Dong, Yao and other ethnic people living around around stream towards the site. Miao girls in festive costumes regard a Lusheng fair as an ideal occasion for young people to look for their own lovers.

Early in the morning, the notes of the Lusheng sound sonorously over the host village and echo around the plateau. Led by the Zailao (village head), crowds pay reverence to ancestors and then enter the Lusheng site to wait for guests. When the guest villagers arrive at the entrance of the host village, they play music of "village entrance" and let off three three strings of firecrackers. The host villagers play "welcoming music" for them. Generally a Lusheng team is composed of five people, who play the Lusheng rhythmically while dancing in ritualized forms. The Lusheng music of Miao people has a special language for them. They dance in response to Lusheng music. Miao girls in silvery ornaments often watch from amongst the crowd. When they find the man of their choice, the girls enter the Lusheng team hand in hand and dance in accordance with rhythms. When the climax is reached, it is a spectacular sight with thousands of Lusheng performing together.
The Ge family living in Huangping distinguishes itself for its three kinds of Lusheng: The Long (dragon) Lusheng for its bass notes, the Hu (tiger) Lusheng for baritone and small Lusheng for regular melodies. The Ge's Lusheng melodies correspond to 200 different Lusheng dances, which draw materials from their daily lives, such as laboring, and from folk customs. Hence the dances are called "subject Lusheng" for every dance recalls an aspect of the Ge family.

The Lusheng boasts high artistic value and a rich cultural heritage. Guizhou holds the "China Kelli International Lusheng Festival" to promote and spread this traditional folk item--a luscious flower in a wild field.

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