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Chinese folk artist sculpts vivid masks for 'living fossil'

(People's Daily Online)

15:34, July 13, 2012

Zhang Yixiang, the folk craft artist, displays a Nuo mask featuring Zhong Kui on July 4, 2012. (Xinhua/Song Zhenping)

Edited and translated by Ye Xin, People's Daily Online

Zhang Yixiang, a 61-year-old man, is called the first man of Nuo mask in Nanfeng, a county in central China’s Jiangxi Province. In 1995, he was awarded the title of “folk craft artist” by the UNESCO.

Zhang’s Nuo masks are used in Nuo Dance, a favorite folk dance called the living fossil of ancient dance in the villages of Nanfeng County.

According to local history, the Nuo dance was performed in Nanfeng in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) to dispel evil spirits. During the Ming and Qing period (1368-1911), the Nanfeng Nuo Dance absorbed various performing feats from operas, puppet shows, and martial arts and gradually developed into an entertainment. It currently preserves 82 dance forms, 180 sorts of masks, and five kinds of props including weapons, religious instruments, lighting, food offerings, and daily outfits.

The Nuo mask added many characters originated form legend and folk story. In the modern times, the function of Nuo mask changed from a part of ceremony to pure handicraft. More and more people begin to pay attention to it and it is appreciated and collected by many people.

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