The Yellow River, the second longest river in China, had flowed through the Mangshan ( in today's Henan Province) and Dangshan (in northmost Anhui Province) area for about 700 years. Around 1855, the river shifted north and left the old river way covering 46.6 kilometers which connects Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan and Anhui. The old course of the Yellow River winds through the central and northern parts of Dangshan County. Its fertile soil is perfect for growing fruits, especially pears, so Dangshan is called "Town of Pear".Around each Qingming Festival (April 5), pears blossom in warm spring breeze. Numerous snow-white pear flowers burst into bloom on large fields of pear trees, sending pleasant scent.
Pears burst into bloom. Photo by Han Fei
When pears blossom each year, the locals would present folk performances in pear orchard, attracting many visitors there.
Goat fighting Photo by Han Fei
The most thrilling activity is "goat fight". This game dates from the beginning of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD), and it grew to be prosperous in the Three Kingdom Period. It is still popular with the locals in Dangshan. People here organize an association to organize "goat fight" games, which are often held in Pear Festival, Spring Festival and slack farming season. Goats chosen for the game are aggressive and never give up. It's exciting to watch such fightings.
Playing the suona
Suona, an instrument developed from Persia in Central Asia, is regarded as the gift bestowed by the God in Dangshan. With profound cultural heritages and smooth skill transmission from one generation to the next, Dangshan Suona was recognized as one of the national intangible cultural heritages.
Folk opera performance in the pear orchard
Besides goat fighting and Suona performance, the locals also present melodious folk singings such as Sipingdiao and Qinshu, folklore performances including stilts, land boat dancing, dragon lantern dance and martial art show.
Though the Yellow River had shifted north a century and a half ago, the Yellow River culture has deeply rooted in people living there to enable them to inherit and carry forward the abundant cultural heritages developed in Central China.