Folk Tourism

A Unique Skill of Three Qins: Xinzi Festivities in Fengcun Village

Traditional festivities are folk activities to celebrate the Spring Festival in China and also a general term of dais, stilts, land boats, lion dance, dragon dance, yangko and more. The concrete forms of traditional festivities vary in different areas. Xinzi is a static, thrilling formative art.

Dais is the most impressive folk activity among all traditional festivities. Each dais has its own theme. The themes of traditional festivities in Shaanxi are mainly based on Qinqiang. Dais is usually built under the direction of experienced folk artisans. Various models like rockery, trees and animals are installed onto a special table (or on a car or a tractor). Then, boys and girls (at the age of 4-5) are attired as the figures in the story and are fixed on the dais. Dais needs one such boy or girl at least and more than 10 at most, up to several zhang (zhang, a unit of length). Traditional festivities were included in the list of the first national intangible cultural heritage in 2006.

On February 12 (the sixteenth day of the first month of lunar year), traditional festivities were kicked off in four traditional festivity clubs in Fengcun Village, Chang’an District, Xi’an. Residents in surrounding villages were attracted by more than 30 Xinzi festivities, such as The Highly Auspicious Year of Rooster, Wu Song Fights the Tiger, Eight Tigers in Youzhou, A Bumper Grain Harvest, and Fairies Spreading Flowers. Tens of thousands of villagers witnessed the fascinating, mysterious, wonderful, and skillful Xinzi festivities.

Traditional festivities in Fengcun Village are also known as shooting the tiger. A story is going around that the 16-year-old Li Cunxiao, a great soldier in the Tang Dynasty, cut firewood in Lao’yu and saw a fierce tiger biting villagers. He bended the bow to shot the tiger and the tiger was shot to death. Li Cunxiao was regarded as the hero of shooting the tiger by the local villagers. Moreover, villagers made a model based on Li Cunxiao’s image in shooting the tiger, to demonstrate his brave and battlewise act. From then on, shooting the tiger became a special name of Xinzi festivities in Fengcun Village.

The ancient art of shooting the tiger was handed down from generation to generation, becoming the soul of humanity of residents in Fengcun Village. Xinzi in Fengcun Village is characterized by fascinating, mysterious, wonderful, and skillful festivities. The attire is exquisite and the structure is abstruse. Xinzi has formed a complete set of standards and technological requirements in terms of design and making, facial makeup, costume, props, overall layout of table top, safety protection and deceptive play.

Xinzi in Fengcun Village has a unique style of its own, representing the highest level of traditional festivities. “The Art of Shooting the Tiger in Fengcun Village” was included in the list of Xi’an municipal intangible cultural heritage. When being performed as a folk art in Beijing in 1958, Xinzi gained considerable fame. So, it was honored as “A Unique Skill of Three Qins and A Special Skill of Western Qin.”