Tibetan heritage to be showcased in Shanghai

Over 50 performers and cultural heritage masters from Madoi County in Qinghai Province will present folk art and cultural heritage exhibits at Shanghai Great World.

Original Tibetan culture will be showcased at Shanghai Great World downtown next week, featuring the Epic of King Gesar, a listed UNESCO intangible heritage.

Over 50 performers and cultural heritage masters from Madoi County in the northwestern Qinghai Province, known as the origin of the Yellow River, will present the folk art and cultural heritage exhibits during Madoi Culture Week at the center, also known as dashijie, from April 19 through 24.

It will be the first time the performers leave their remote highland villages to perform in Shanghai, said Shao Quan, deputy director of the county in the Golog Prefecture in Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The event is part of the local government's efforts to support the impoverished northwest region, not only financially but also by promoting their ethnic cultures.

The speech-singing folk performance of King Gesar is reputedly the world’s longest epic, with around a million lines. Performers claim they are divinely inspired to chant the thousand-year-old saga.

The epic, believed to date from the 12th century, describes the heroic deeds of the cultural hero Gesar, the fearless lord of the legendary kingdom of Ling. It is inherited mainly through the speech-singing art and is deemed to be on par with the epic works of Homer in ancient Greece.

"The performers may not have received professional training in the past, but the people there have been performing this epic on mountains, in tents and at temples for generations," Shao said. 

The county of Madoi is said to be where King Gesar claimed his throne through horse racing.

The epic will be performed on the central stage of the center twice a day during the week.

Many handicraft techniques, such as eave tiles making, stone carving, yak hair weaving and traditional snacks will also be presented at the center. Heritage masters from the county will make artworks on site.

Mani Rock Carving for instance, which was popular in China's Tibetan regions, will be displayed, adding some artistic patterns specific to the county, such as the sacred Mantra of Tibetan Buddhism, Shao said. People there pile up stones and carve patterns on them to pray for health and peace.

Visitors can also buy and taste specialties from the county, such as the meat of yaks that lived at an altitude of over 4,000 meters. Their meat is said to be "gentler" than local beef.

A photo exhibition highlighting highland scenery will also be held in the center to promote tourism there. The photos, taken by Madoi photographers, will be displayed along the corridors on the third and fourth floors of the center.

Huangpu District has partnered with Madoi County to support its development and help locals fight poverty. The district government has assisted with a total of 145 million yuan (US$23 million) and helped build 54 projects since 2010, mostly infrastructure to help improve the living conditions of local people.

The century-old center on Xizang Road S. in Huangpu District officially reopened to the public in March 2017, with a ticket price of 60 yuan. 

Special Reports