The Ancient Court Music Ensembles of Dai Ethnic Style in Menglian County, Puer

A few days ago, some guests for each year’s Menglian Fish Festival watched a performance of authentic Dai style ancient court music (also called “Xuanfu ancient music”) in the Xuanfu Department in Nayun Ancient Town. Many people were intoxicated in the ancient music, which in fact was once facing the extinction crisis. To save the heritage of the ancient music, the government adopted a series of measures, encouraged the performers by rewards, and opened a heritage base. Now, the Dai style ancient court music has trained many inheritors, and they do a lot of performances every year.

In the year of 2006, the only one alive old performer who had played the court music was Long Sannong, a 72-year-old performer, in addition, there are only 10 persons in the county who can play some of the songs in the court music.

The court orchestra mainly perform for the leaders of Xuanfu Department, and the instruments they used are very special and beautiful in sound. Long Sannong is a member of the court orchestra, and he lived in Manglang Village, over 40 km from the county seat. He started learning to play the ancient music performance at the age of 12, and his master took him to Xuanfu Department, after 2 days of walking, for a performance, which was the first time and the last time he played in the court. Then the court orchestra shattered due to various reasons.

The instruments used in ancient music consist of Duoluo, Ding etc., but many of the young are not willing to learn them because these instruments cannot bring them money, and gradually the instruments and music scores failed to be handed down from the past generations. The orchestra has 12 persons in 1982, 9 persons in 1992, 4 persons in 2000 and only 3 persons instruments in total including Ding and Duoluo.

To preserve the ancient music, Menglian Cultural Center paid the money for the making of instruments for 5 old performers of folk music, and some of the staff even joined in the orchestra to study playing while collecting music scores.

Xuanfu Ancient Music Association was founded for the purpose of rescuing the ancient music, and then registered their trademark. The government also attached great importance to it, established a special fund to support the old performers, and encouraged them to train pupils. Once a pupil reaches a certain level, both the teacher and the pupil will get money award. And a heritage base was founded in school 3 years ago.

Along with the construction of the tourism projects like “green triangle” and the “tea ancestral culture”, more and more visitors come here every year, thus Menglian’s county government is planning to build an ancient music performance hall in the Nayun Ancient Town to let the visitors appreciate the sound of nature.