Skip to content
                      Site Tools
                      Increase font size Decrease font size Default font size default color blue color green color
                      Home History and Culture Folk Songs of the Northern and Southern Dynasties
                      Folk Songs of the Northern and Southern Dynasties
                      Learn Chinese - History and Culture

                      Folk Songs of the Northern and Southern Dynasties

                      The Southern and Northern Dynasties (nán běi cháo 南北朝)(420-589) refer to the period of more than one hundred years from the decline of the Eastern Jin (dōng jìn 東晉) (317- 420) to the foundation of the Sui Dynasty (suí cháo 隋朝) (581-618). It was an age of civil war and political confrontation between two powers, one in the north and the other in the south. However, it was also a time of flourishing in the arts and culture. Created orally by people in the wake of Yuefu Songs (yuè fǔ 樂府), Folk Songs of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (nán běi cháo mín gē 南北朝民歌) has also played an important role in both Chinese music and literature.?

                      the Ode to XizhouFolk Songs of the Southern Dynasties
                      Songs of this genre are mostly love songs which reflect the sincere and pure love life of people. They are often sung by women with refreshing and touching appeal, which possibly has a direct relation with the beautiful environment and rich condition of the south. Most of the folk songs belong to the 4-line poems with 5 characters in each line. Moreover, pun is often used in folk songs.

                      The Ode to Xizhou (xī zhōu qǔ 西洲曲) is the representative work of Folk Songs of the Southern Dynasties. The main theme is that the heroine’s lover hadn’t come back home, so she went to gather lotus to divert herself from loneliness and boredom. At a distance from the lake, both of them were lovesick apart. Finally, she begged the wind to bring her dream to Xizhou where her lover was staying.?

                      Ode to Xizhou (part)
                      ...When they gather lotus at Nantang in autumn,
                      the lotus blooms are higher than their heads;
                      They stoop to pick lotus seeds,
                      Seeds as translucent as water.
                      ...The waters is beyond the scope of eyesight,
                      You are lovesick, me either…
                      The south wind knows my mood,
                      It blows my dream to Xizhou.

                      Folk Songs of the Northern Dynasties
                      Folk Songs of the Northern Dynasties were mostly created by ethnic groups and reflected the society and their lives from every profile. Besides the theme concerning warfare, most folk songs of the Northern Dynasties describe scenery of the north and the people’s nomadic life, thus manifesting straightforward complexion of Northerners which has a clear contrast with those of the Southern Dynasties.

                      As the Northern Dynasties were often at wars, the long narrative poem The Ballad of Mulan(mù lán cí 木蘭辭) is the best-known work of that period.
                      The Ballad of Mulan describes the heroine Mulan who was brave, smart and high-minded. In the ode, Hua Mulan (huā mù lán 花木蘭) disguised as man and joined the army, replacing her father to fight against the enemies. At that time in a feudal society, women were universally regarded to be inferior to men. So this poem had its special significance. The story about Hua Mulan’s enlistment has maintained its great popularity among people and has been adapted for the screen and the stage.?

                      The Ballad of Mulan

                      The Ballad of Mulan (part)
                      ..."Last night I saw conscription lists,
                      The Khan is calling troops everywhere.
                      The army’s rolls were in twelve scrolls,
                      And every scroll held Father’s name.
                      My father has no older son,
                      Mulan has no big brother.
                      I wish to go buy horse and gear
                      And march to the wars for father."

                      In all, Folk Songs of the Northern and Southern Dynasties had great influences on poets of the Tang Dynasty (táng cháo 唐朝) (618-907).


                      ????The Ballad of Mulan 南北朝民歌現存五百多首。南北朝長期對峙的局面,以及兩地在民族風尚、自然環境等方面存在的差異,南北朝民歌呈現出不同的情調與風格。大抵南方民歌清麗纏綿,北方民歌樸直剛健?!段髦耷泛汀赌咎m辭》,分別代表著南北朝民歌的最高成就。
                      ???? 南朝樂府民歌篇幅短小,多為五言四句。語言清新自然,正如《大子夜歌》所說:“慷慨吐清音,明轉出天然。”南朝民歌在語言上最顯著的特色,是大量運用雙關隱語,如以“藕”雙關“偶”,“蓮”雙關“憐”,“絲”雙關“思”,以布匹之“匹”雙關匹配之“匹”,黃連之“苦”雙關相思之“苦”等。不僅使語言活潑流暢,而且使情思的表達更加委婉含蓄。
                      ???? 《西洲曲》是南朝樂府民歌中的杰作,也是最長的一首抒情詩。作品通過季節變換,層層遞進地表現了一位少女從春到秋對遠方情人的深切思念之情。語言優美,情感纏綿,筆觸細膩。全詩三十二句,四句一轉韻,流利宛轉,聲情和諧。
                      ????? 北朝樂府民歌語言質樸剛健,風格粗獷豪放,自然清新。多雜言格式而以五言為主。北朝樂府民歌數量雖然不多,題材卻比較廣泛。主要有以下幾方面內容:一是描寫了北方的壯麗山川和游牧生活。二是表現了北方民族粗獷豪邁的個性和豪俠尚武的精神。三是反映了北方頻繁的戰爭以及由此給人民帶來的離鄉背井、流離失所的痛苦。四是反映了婚姻愛情生活。北方男女對婚姻愛情直率、大膽、開放的態度,與南朝民歌的情調纏綿婉轉形成鮮明的對照。如《折楊柳枝歌》其二:“門前一株棗,歲歲不知老。阿婆不嫁女,那得孫兒抱?”《地驅歌樂辭》其二:“驅羊入谷,白羊在前。老女不嫁,蹋地呼天!”The Ballad of Mulan
                      ????? 《木蘭辭》是北朝樂府民歌中最杰出的作品,講述了一個具有傳奇色彩的故事,成功地塑造了木蘭這一不朽的藝術形象。她勤勞善良,熱愛和平,當戰爭來臨,出于對年邁父親的關心和保家衛國的決心,她勇敢地沖破封建禮教的束縛,女扮男裝,替父從軍,馳騁疆場,征戰十年。當她立下戰功以后,又不慕榮利,不求封賞,而是渴望回鄉與家人團聚。在木蘭身上集中了中華民族的英雄氣概和高尚情操,是古代人民理想的化身。這首民歌在藝術上也取得了很大的成功。首先,它富于傳奇色彩,是現實主義與浪漫主義結合的范例。其次,出色地運用了民歌常用的復疊、鋪陳排比等藝術技巧,比喻、對偶、反襯、頂真等修辭手法,增強了藝術效果。第三,筆墨凝練,繁簡得宜,句式以五言為主,雜以七言、九言,錯落有致,聲韻鏗鏘,富有音樂美?!赌咎m詩》不愧是我國古代詩歌史上輝映千古的敘事詩名篇,與《孔雀東南飛》被譽為我國詩歌史上長篇敘事詩的雙璧。


                      China Yellow Pages