Some Music Offerings and Religious Fighting Theater

Digging the newsletter of CHIME.

I ordered these two books:

Yangzhou, has this wonderful bit in the 20th essay "Yangzhou Village Theater," from page 407:

The site where the ritual of "feeding flaming mouths" took place had an entirely different atmosphere. There, the night was lit up like daylight, Buddhist monks and Daoist priests chanted scriptures for the salvation of dead souls. But these rituals were routine; everyone was more interested in the informal plays that the priest sang later. Sometimes, the two streets east and west of the river would alternately engage Buddhist monks or Daoist priests. From opposite banks, they would taunt each other with their best numbers, never accepting defeat, and sometimes the contest would last from nightfall to dawn. Daoists priests on the east bank would sing "Little Nun Escapes Down the Mountain" (Xiao nigu xia shan); Buddhist monks on the west bank would sing "Daoist Priest Wang Captures the Demon" (Wang daoshi na yao). Just as the Daoists finished singing "Lady White Snake Fights the Monk Fahai at Golden Mountain Temple" (Bai nianngniang Jinshan dou Fahai), the monks would start singing "Daoist Immortal Lü Chuanyang Thrice Harasses White Peony" (Lu Chuanyang san xi Bai Mudan). Many young people rushed from one side of the river to the other, cheering them on.

I should point out that "singing" here is probably the wrong word, these are kung fu (meritorious action) plays that were acted, danced and fought.