Xiepu Boat Drum Dance.澥浦船鼓。[Photo provided to Ningbo Times]
By Gou Wen
Xiepu Boat Drum Dance originated in the Qing Dynasty (around 1810) and has a history of more than 200 years. It is a folk dance that integrates percussion instruments, boat-shaped props, and folk music. The Dance reflects the ways of life and customs of fishermen in eastern Zhejiang. When fishing boats return with full loads, fishermen celebrate the harvest with the Boat Drum Dance.
Xiepu is the name of the place where the Dance originated. Xiepu town was a great fishing port in the Ming and Qing dynasties. In the Old Yue language, "pu" means "the water's edge" or "where the river meets the sea"; "xie" is a homonym of "蟹" (crab). Together, the two syllables mean "a place near the water's edge with crab".
Today's Xiepu Boat Drum Dance begins with a performer shouting the words "setting sail!" The five acts—navigating the seas, casting the net, riding the waves, pulling up the catch, and return to port—depicts the entire fishing journey and eastern Zhejiang's maritime customs.