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We had an absolutely perfect day with our tour guide - Rogin Luo - who took us for a hike along The Great Wall! Didn't know what to expect and were thrilled to have him as our guide. Very imformative, knowledgable and fun! We go to experience a part of The Great Wall that was unrestored and see all its natural beauty. Got a long history lesson along the way!

After the hike, we all went to lunch at a small place at the bottom of the hill. Located in a house, we ate lunch in the proprietors bedroom! What a hoot! Rogin is the Best of the Best! This tour company delivered for us and we are extremely grateful.

Westborough, Massachusetts
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Home  »  China Travel Guide  »  Beijing Culture  »  Folk Sports  »  
Overpass Streamer

Overpass Streamer (天桥中幡) is traditional folk acrobatics in Beijing. It is the display of Beijing culture. Overpass, called Tianqiao in Chinese, is in the eastern part of Xuanwu District, established in Yuan Dynasty. It is used to be a must pass when the emperors in Ming and Qing Dynasties made the Heaven-Worshipping Altar. In 1934, the overpass was pulled down totally. Before liberation, many itinerant entertainer made performance in Tianqiao by drawing a circle as playing ground. Gradually, Tianqiao came into being a vaudeville ground, among which streamer and wrestle are the most popular.

Streamer is a sort of flag decorated splendidly. It originated in royal performances in Jin Dynasty. During marching or relaxing when hunting, flag-bearer waved steamer to made up to emperors or encourage morale. Streamer is made from bamboo, about 3 zhang high. on the top of the bamboo, there is a red umbrella, under which hangs a flag embroidered words.

Performers made performance of variety such as by raising the streamer in hand or holding up it on elbows, then catching by another elbows, back neck nest or forehead; or holding streamer by single hand, moving it to the back then throwing it ahead and catching it with hand or forehead. The most difficult is to catch the throwing streamer with teeth below and make the streamer in upright state.

Streamer is divided into large steamer, middle streamer and small streamer by size. Generally speaking, large steamer is heavier and higher relatively with a height of more than 12 meters. Middle streamer is about 9 meters, which is the most popular by performers. Small streamer is 3-4 meters high, played in small area such as theatre, tea house etc.

In the middle of Qing Dynasty, a performance of “skating carrying a steamer” was held in Beihai Park in winter. The steamer was more than 10 meters high and over 15 kilograms weight, hanging a silk banner with a width of 0.5 meters and a length of 5.5 meters. Some blessing words were embroidered on the face side and on the other side embroidered the name of performing group.

The government pays more attention to protect non-material cultural heritages. On 20th, May, 2006, the heritage was listed into the first national nonmaterial cultural heritage list by state council. On 5th, June, 2007, ministry of culture confirmed Fu Wengang as the representative successor of the heritage.

Overpass streamer are moving toward world. Fu Wengang and his apprentices once made performance on the streets of Sydney, forming a beautiful landscape. Recently, they are invited to perform in Canada, American, Russia and so on. At present, playing streamer gradually tends to be non-professional and professional artists are in shortage. This folk sport is on the verge of extinction.


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