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Ancient poetry tones resonate with young Chinese

Updated: 2020-02-01 13:49:07

( Xinhua )

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WUHAN -- They flocked together in traditional Chinese clothing. With unique cadence and tones as a flourish, they praised love, heroes and history in archaic poems.

If they are mistaken as time travelers from a thousand years ago, that is exactly their desired effect.

These retro poem lovers, whose performance at a library in central Hubei province attracted hundreds, are devotees of the "yinsong" or intoning movement.

They are dedicated to reviving the intonation with which ancient Chinese intellectuals used to read or recite poems and taking pride in the charm of the ancient Chinese culture they evoke.


Though lacking official numbers, the practice of ancient Chinese poetry chanting has become a common scene in recent years, with clubs dedicated to yinsong mushrooming across the country.

"Numbers of yinsong lovers are growing fast," said Qin Haiqun, 42, a professional actress of poetry intoning who joined the activity at the Hubei Provincial Library. "The number of invitations I've received to give lectures or performances (on yinsong) has surged in recent years."

"When I organized a public performance with my students for the first time, people often asked if we were filming a show or singing opera," said Qin. "But now our audience can recite the poems in the correct intonation with us."

The Internet has helped spread the trend, making it easy for teenagers to reach devotees even in small towns. On Tik Tok, a mobile app focused on funny and entertaining short videos, a set of yinsong videos has been viewed more than 1.9 million times.

"The yinsong fashion encourages people to read more Chinese poems and is an easier way to understand the artistic conception of the poems," said Dai, whose son attends a yinsong class. "At least it's more interesting to recite poems with intonation than simply repeating then in flat tone after our teacher when I was in primary school."


Experts believe the resurgence of yinsong, like that of traditional clothing and songs, is part of a larger trend to prize tradition, as the increasingly wealthy and modernized Chinese society sets off to reconnect with its cultural roots.

"Yinsong is the way our ancestors used to read or recite poems," said Luo Tianshu, 22, a senior majoring in electrical engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. "It has deeper levels of national feeling."

Chen Shaosong, a renowned professor on yinsong from Nanjing Normal University, has been collecting different versions of yinsong and re-orchestrating them. He believes that behind the retro fashion is the ever-increasing desire to explore the traditional culture.

"With China's economic and social development, many young people are starting to search for their cultural identity, which is also a reflection of their growing cultural confidence," said the 78-year-old professor.

Li Yaonan, a philosophy professor at Wuhan University, shares a similar belief. "As people's living standards improve, they go for more individualized choices."

"After Western fashion trends swept the world in the last century, I'm glad to see that many youths in China have now picked up the love of traditional culture," said Li.

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