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              Folk Songs of the Northern and Southern Dynasties
              History and Culture

              Folk Songs of the Northern and Southern Dynasties

              History
              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.?

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              Yuefu Songs of the Han Dynasty
              History and Culture

              Yuefu Songs of the Han Dynasty

              History
              The word Yuefu (yuè fǔ 樂府) came first into being in Qin Dynasty (qín cháo 秦朝)(221 BC-206 BC). Yue (yuè 樂) means music, Fu (fǔ 府) means bureau, put together Yuefu means music bureau. It laid its foundation in the Han Dynasty (hàn cháo 漢朝) (206 BC-220 AD), and became a royal government Musical Department for collecting, writing or performing folk songs and ballads in 112 BC. After then people called poems which were composed in this folk song style Yuefu.

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              Tang Poetry (唐詩)
              History and Culture

              Tang PoetryTang poetry (táng shī 唐詩) refers to poetry written during China's Tang Dynasty (táng cháo 唐朝), often considered as the Golden Age of Chinese poetry. According to a compilation created under the Kangxi (kāng xī 康熙) emperor of the Qing Dynasty (qīng cháo 清朝), there were almost 50,000 Tang poems written by over 2,200 authors.

              During the Tang Dynasty, poetry became an important part of social life at all levels of society. Scholars were required to master poetry for the civil service examinations, but the art was available to everyone. This led to a large record of poetry and poets, a partial record of which survives today. Two of the most famous poets of the period were Du Fu (dù fǔ 杜甫) and Li Bai (lǐ bái 李白).

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              Ci (詞)
              History and Culture

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              Ci (cí 詞) is a kind of lyric Chinese poetry. For speakers of English, the word "ci" is pronounced somewhat like "tsuh". It is also known as Changduanju (cháng duǎn jù 長短句 "lines of irregular lengths") and Shiyu (shī yú 詩馀).

              Typically the number of characters in each line and the arrangement of tones were determined by one of around 800 set patterns, each associated with a particular title, called cipai (cí pái 詞牌). Originally they were written to be sung to a tune of that title, with set rhythm, rhyme, and tempo. Therefore, the title may have nothing to do with its contents, and it is common for several ci to appear to have the same title. Some ci would have a "subtitle" (or a commentary, sometimes as long as a paragraph) indicating the contents. Sometimes, for the sake of clarity, a ci is listed under its title plus its first line.

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              Yuan Zaju (元雜劇)
              History and Culture

              Guan HanqingThe dramas of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) are called Yuan Zaju (yuán zá jù 元雜劇), poetic dramas set to music. As a mature, high-class theatrical form, the Yuan Zaju is full of the characteristics of that period, and displays unique artistic creations. Hence, they are regarded as the most notable achievement of Yuan literature. At the beginning, the Zaju centered on Dadu (dà dū 大都) (present-day Beijing) and spread widely over northern China. After the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) fell to the Yuan Dynasty, the Zaju became a national drama. It quickly flourished, with a number of plays written, and the ranks of performers swelling.

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              Fictions of the Ming and Qing Dynasties
              History and Culture

                 Chinese Fictions
              In the Ming (míng cháo 明朝)(1368-1644 AD) and Qing (qīng cháo 清朝)(1644-1911 AD) dynasties, Chinese literature entered a new epoch. The two dynasties witnessed great achievements in the creation of fiction. Representative works are the Four Great Classical Novels (sì dà míng zhù 四大名著): Romance of Three Kingdoms (sān guó yǎn yì 三國演義), Outlaws of the Marsh (shuǐ hǔ zhuàn 水滸傳), Journey to the West (xī yóu jì 西游記) and A Dream of Red Mansions (hóng lóu mèng 紅樓夢). Those works enjoy a high reputation throughout the world. What’s more, they have been adapted for the screen and the stage, winning the favor of global audience.

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