The Folk Culture of Wuzhen

Wuzhen is an ancient town in the south of China, with more than 7,000 years of civilized history and 1,300 years established history. It is one of China's first batch of top 10 historic and cultural towns and one of China's charming towns, and has preserved profound folk culture.

Temple Fair and Silkworm Custom Temple Fair and Silkworm CustomWuzhen

The folk culture of Temple Fair has been circulated in Wuzhen for a long time. Mr. Mao Dun, a novelist, cultural critic and the Minister of Culture of People's Republic of China (1949–65) called it “the carnival in China's rural area”.

No one knows when Temple Fair began.

With the protection and development of Wuzhen, the folk custom has also been excavated, sorted and protected.

Now, the Temple Fair has become a brand of Wuzhen's tourism folk culture, the solemnity of marshal plague, a lively affair of silkworm fair, a fierce water race for hegemony of boat competition, an excited show on a high bamboo pole, a martial art performance on a boxing boat and the romantic of water wedding.

A wide variety of different forms of folk culture has become a tourist attraction both home and abroad.

Temple Fair and Silkworm Custom 3Wuzhen

The purpose of the competition is to pray for the harvest of cocoon.

In the old days, the best farm boat and dozens of young men were selected in each group.

With flags on boats, the competition starts accompaniment of gongs and drums along the way.

The fastest ship represents the best sericulture of the year, so the competition is very fierce.

Temple Fair and Silkworm Custom Martial Arts Performance on BoatWuzhen

Boxing boat, also known as boat boxing, originated from the Southern Song Dynasty.

Wuzhen water system belongs to Taihu Lake, and is at the junction of three counties and seven counties in the two provinces.

With little administration from the government, to prevent from robbers, local residents practiced Kongfu on boat defending their homeland.

Today, though there is no longer robber, this traditional activity has still been practiced as physical fitness.

In Wuzhen local dialect,“boat” and “silkworm” are homonyms.

Therefore, the boxing boat performance is also to celebrate the harvest of cocoon.

Long Street Banquet 1Wuzhen

The Long Street Feast has existed since the inception of Wuzhen all those years ago.

The Wuzhen Town History Record recalls that for “two or three miles long, the street is full of smells and dishes”.

A spectacular event for all to enjoy, you can see hundreds of relatives sitting at their desks along the street surrounded by hot, aromatic inviting dishes.

With the local bean tea and wine as well as Wuzhen mutton, salted pork, happy eggs, fried bean curd, fresh meats of all kinds and other traditional food and drink, all enjoy the Long Street Feast to its fullest.

Water Lantern Fair 1Wuzhen

"Wuzhen Water Lantern Festival", also called "Wuzhen Lantern Festival", or "Wuzhen night gathering."

According to the Wuzhen Town Record, during the New Year, lanterns are hung on streets with riddles on them.

The lanterns are in the shape of dragon, elephant, lion, hoese and many more. It would be last to the Lantern Festival (January 15th in the lunar calendar).

In the past, on the night of the first lunar month of the Lantern Festival, Wuzhen people, in addition to watching lanterns and celebrating Yuanxiao, they always dug in groups and carried lights to the bridges over the city.

They especially loved walking on Tongji bridge and Renji bridge, desiring for longevity and blessings.

Ancient Theater Stage 2Wuzhen

Located in Xiuzhen Taoist temple square, the ancient theater stage is the subsidiary building to the Taoist temple which was built in 1749.

Similar to Xiuzhen Taoist temple, the theater stage had been destroyed for many times; however it was renovated in 1919 and has been preserved well.

It covers an area about 204 square meters with the view of Xiuzhen Taoist temple in opposite, Dongshi River in the south and Xizha Bridge in the west.

With a gable and hip roof, the upturned eaves make the whole building not only solemn but also elegant.

The sparrow brace between the beams and columns are all exquisite wood carvings with high artistic value. The theater stage has two floors.

The first floor is 3.31meters high with side door and front door. The side door connects to the river.

There is a small ladder through the back of the first floor to the second floor. You can also go to the boat through the flap door.

The second floor has two parts, the back part is dressing room with fine wood carving on the window, which makes spacious and bright, and the former part facing with performance area.

Now, the stage has been restored to the usual lively scene, there is a performance from morning to evening.

Outsiders may not understand the arrogant singing, but from the audience aboriginal expression, you can deeply comprehend the charm of local culture.

Indigo Fabric Workshop Production Process-Dyeing 1Wuzhen

Indigo fabric is originated from Qin and Han Dynasties, formed in Song and Yuan Dynasties and reached the peak at Ming and Qing Dynasties.

It is mainly used for clothes, bed sheet and quilt.

The fabric pattern is mainly from daily life, such as phoenix and peony, magpie in a tree and chrysanthemum, which reflects common people’s wish and aesthetic view.

Wine Distillery Workshop 3Wuzhen

The workshop has the typical pattern of a shop in the front and a workshop at the back.

The shop sells products made in the workshop.

There are three plaques reading soy sauce, preserved tofu and rice wine, similar to business license today.

In the past, making wine, soy sauce and vinegar can be at the same workshop, generally called soy sauce and wine industry.

There were over 20 brewing workshops in Wuzhen, such as Gaogongsheng, Taofuchang, Hengchang and Shenlichang; however, only Gaogongsheng Workshop remains today, which was set up in Ming Dynasty with a history of 120 years.

Water Lantern Fair 8Wuzhen

Wuzhen local people have the custom of walking bridges with lanterns in Lantern Festival.

In the old days, people would carry lanterns and continuously go across three bridges.

It’s said that the more bridges you take, the better blessing you will have next year.

Credits: Story

Wuzhen

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