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October 20, 2010

Look around you and discover treasure!

Another overdue post on a talk held at Bukit Merah Library on "Old Chinese Dialect Songs and rhymes" on October 9, 2010. 

The speaker is a renowned DJ from Malaysia. Better known for his Chinese name Ji An 吉安 (Chong Keat Aun, 张吉安), he spent a few years going around the country to collect and record dialect songs and rhymes. He has published a book titled 乡音考古 (literally translated as "archaeological findings of the village music" but it will be more appropriate to translate "village music" as "folk songs/ballads"). Here is his website:

He mentioned a few key points which I have noted and shared the same sentiments.
1. Everyone, not just researchers, can play a part in recording voices/songs around us (especially in the context where generations of overseas Chinese have migrated, settled down, localized but to some extent, preserve their tradition). We never know if this may be of value and become an important heritage in future. 

2. Doing such collection/research is a race against time. We never know when these people will leave us. Personally, I was much saddened by the recent demise of this lady puppeteer and I hope in time to come, I will be able to put my collection into writing and documentation as well. 

Some pictures that I took during the talk, pardon for the poor quality because the speaker preferred to talk in the dark. Even so, many of us were attentively listening to him for almost 3 hours. A natural speaker with a great passion indeed.  

Minnan song with a local flavour

Tongan nursery rhymes well-remembered by an elderly lady

Hainan lullaby songs

There are a few more others like Nanyin, Guangxi mountain songs, Yongchun proverbs etc etc. Ji An was saying that in China you will never get to find so many dialect groups all "cramped" together in one area. The existence of a multi-dialectal Chinese community is something unique about Singapore and Malaysia, perhaps existing in some parts of Southeast Asia and other places with overseas Chinese communities. 

Look around you and you may find treasure! 

Marionette performance and event in honour of Xuan Tian Shang Di

I apologize for the late post on this event held on 11 October (4th day, 9th month of the lunar calendar) in honour of Xuan Tian Shang Di 玄天上帝(Supreme Lord of the Mysterious Heavens). 

Troupe performing: Feng Huang Puppet Troupe
If you observe closely enough, the puppets look brand new and the puppet stage brightly lit. (I wrote about Feng Huang puppet troupe in my previous entries but it seemed like the puppets then weren't as new as these) I happened to have the opportunity to meet up with this man who claimed that he could perform with 36 strings of the marionette. He commented that the brightly lit stage was more eye-catching than those he have seen in Malaysia. Anyway, if I ever get the chance to let him demonstrate his skills, I will post it here. 

Here are some marionette pictures:

Photo courtesy of Chan 

October 7, 2010

Sky Bird Puppet Troupe

I have read this book 《香港传统木偶戏探源》(translation: Examining the origins of traditional puppetry in HK) some time ago but little did I realize the author of this book Mr. Yang Qingyi 杨清意 is the founding leader of the Sky Bird Puppet Troupe in HK! Although the title suggests that the book is on traditional puppetry in HK, it provides rather useful information on the origins of puppets in China.

Sky Bird Puppet Troupe's website:

Cover of the book:

Retrieved from:

October 4, 2010

Chancing upon more puppet troupes

Happen to chance upon more puppet troupes of Singapore on Flickr but I have yet to find out if they are still extant. Here's a glimpse:

Name of troupe: Sen Wen Neng 森文能
        Picture taken: 23 November 2007                                 

Name of troupe: Xin Bao Feng 新宝凤
Picture taken: 14 June 2008

Name of troupe: Xin Yan Ling 新燕玲
Picture taken: 23 Dec 2008

Name of troupe: Yu Zhu Feng 玉珠凤
Picture taken: 29 Aug 2009