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Shuitian love songs: We sing what we see in poetic ways

Updated:2018-09-27 15:10:11   Daguan Weekly

“Shuitian love songs are poetic.” In Shilongba Township of Huaping County in the junction of Yunnan and Sichuan, Shuitian branch of Yi ethic group inhabits along the Jinsha River. Accordingly, Shuitian people have more than 6,300 folk songs of which more than 5,000 are love songs. And each song is unique.

In Shuitian Village, everyone is happy to talk about the three-day-and-night singing gathering held by the elder generation. Before the 1950s, men and women knew each other by singing love songs. If a man saw a woman sewing while he was herding horses, he would express his inner feelings by singing,” Yang Guanghua, a member of the village, sang a love song for us: “Let the cattle feed on the opposite slope. Stones hurt my feet. I am still a bachelor without a wife.”

The content of Shuitian love songs comes from life. In various occasions, Shuitian people will compose and sing spontaneously, “We sing what we see and answer whatever it’s asked,” said Yang Guanghua, “Just like the pop songs nowadays, we sing whenever we are in the mood.”

Each line of Shuitian love songs consists of seven words. “Just like the ancient poems, you will feel the rhyme immediately.”  Metaphors are commonly used in Shuitian love songs. If a girl wants to refuse the boy who is hitting on her, she will sing: “You are a goose from afar and won’t stay here for long.” In the song, the boy is compared to a migrating goose, to express the girl’s feeling that he will not settle down. Most of the things used in metaphors are animals and plants in nature or the tools in daily life.

Another love song goes, “You and I are like needle and thread. You are the needle who is leading me…” This is an obvious metaphor.

Reporting by Gong Jingyang from Daguan Weekly 

Photographs by Chen Minggui

Editor: John Li

Keywords:   love songs