Xiong Menghe keeps Changsha kuaiban folk tradition alive
Budding enthusiasts for Changsha-style kuaiban now have the invaluable opportunity to study the art form under Xiong Menghe, one of the city's leading maestros.
Changsha-style kuaiban can trace its origins back to the time of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), but in recent times it has waned in popularity and Xiong's valiant objective is to keep the vibrant folk tradition alive.
Kuaiban is a style of oral storytelling set to the rhythm of bamboo clappers with a strong foundation in Northern China. It is sometimes loosely equated to the genre of rap music and holds a special place in Changsha cultural identity, as signified by Changsha kuaiban being registered as an intangible cultural heritage by the city in 2014.
Xiong Menghe performs Changsha Kuaiban. [Photo by Liu Xiaodong/csxnews.com]
Xiong Menghe is a living legend of Changsha-style kuaiban and for a number of years has served as a mentor to a host of apprentices, such as Wang Chibin and Wang Jianke. Xiong, along with his trusty sidekicks, he now regularly teaches around 45 amateurs from 13 surrounding villages of Jiangbei town, Changsha county.