Huadeng (Flower Lantern) Opera in Yaoan County, Chuxiong

Brief Introduction

The flower lantern of Yaoan County(姚安县), Chuxiong is a traditional folk art of song and dance in Yunnan province. Yaoan flower lantern, which is as famous as Kunming and Yuxi’s, has a very long history, it is said that it is originated from Tang Dynasty.  However, due to the lack of relevant historical evidence, now the relatively consistent version is from the early Ming dynasty, the Qing dynasty and the Republic of China period. It has a history of more than 600 years since the Ming dynasty. Yaoan Lantern Festival(花灯节), which has gone through many vicissitudes of life, is still a classic of Yaoan’s traditional culture and art.


Yaoan county is a natural rice granary, destined to be one of the key areas of ” Recuperat System“(军屯制). Along with ” Recuperat System “, along with the inland immigrant’s entry, some foreign dance and rap art also entered. Once these singing, dancing and rap arts are integrated with Yao an’s folk art of shehuo and Lantern Festival, another folk song, dance and singing art form with lantern elements will emerge. By the early Qing dynasty, the forms of lanterns such as “Lahua“(《拉花》), “Autumn Drum“(《秋老鼓》) and “Cailianxiang“(《踩连厢》) had emerged in folk songs, dances and rap arts. In Xianfeng, Tongzhi years, the county  basically have their own lantern troupe, every festival or happy event, they celebrate through the form of playing lantern opera.

Development and Main Plays

Later, it became the mainstream of folk art and an important art form for people to entertain themselves. Starting from this, the lantern performance art has been constantly improved. From the simple rap to the singing and dancing “Dazi Lahua“(《鞑子拉花》), from the simple form to the scene plays “Guai Ganmei“(《拐干妹》) and “Opening the Wealth Door“(《开财门》) with some story plots. Eventually, it developed into plays with characters and  complete stories like “Big Mend Jar“(《大补缸》), “Playing Flower Drum“(《打花鼓》) and other kinds of lantern plays. Therefore, Yaoan lantern with local characteristics finally developed into a mature and unique artistic style, becoming a dazzling flower in Yunnan lantern garden.

Establishment of the Troupe

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, especially the founding of the Lantern Troupe in 1956, Yao an finally came to the stage from the folk, from amateur to professional,  from county to provincial to Beijing, and came out with high-quality products and glory. After the reform and opening up, the biennial rural art show through the County People’s Congress Legislation fixed down, provide a guarantee for the Yaoan’s flower  lanterns to go to the stage , and many creative folk lantern artists  emerged , such as Chu Zhenglong(初正龙), Zan Fangcai(昝方才), Jiang Guoding(蒋国定).

Peasant Dramatists Association

Nowadays, despite the impact of entertainment methods such as film and television, Yaoan lantern still sticks to its own position, sticks to its own art, and has its own audience. The troupe is still rehearsing and performing. The peasant drama creation group changed its appearance to a higher level and became the peasant dramatists association(农民戏剧家协会), which integrates creation and performance and becomes the leader of folk lantern art. During the festivals, the lantern team from the folk is more vigorous and full of new tricks.
Chinese Version:姚安花灯/5634883

Translated by Bella Ren/任新月