Caixin
Dec 15, 2018 02:05 PM
SOCIETY & CULTURE

Many Masters, Few Disciples: The Dying Traditions of Chinese Acrobatics

Wang Baohe, who claims to have “the world’s quickest hands,” sits exhausted in the “Ghost House” of Wuqiao Acrobatics World after back-to-back performances. His son Wang Ligang has his own unique skills, but there is no one to carry on Wang Baohe’s “bone-shrinking” trick. The trick is likely to be lost forever. Oct. 28, 2018. Photo: Cai Yingli/Caixin
Wang Baohe, who claims to have “the world’s quickest hands,” sits exhausted in the “Ghost House” of Wuqiao Acrobatics World after back-to-back performances. His son Wang Ligang has his own unique skills, but there is no one to carry on Wang Baohe’s “bone-shrinking” trick. The trick is likely to be lost forever. Oct. 28, 2018. Photo: Cai Yingli/Caixin

In 1913, the Tianqiao (Bridge of Heaven) area of Beijing, west of the Temple of Heaven, developed into a market. Amid specialty shops selling imported goods and tea houses, there were also myriad traveling artists performing martial arts — and acrobatics. The artists could scrape a living performing on the streets at Tianqiao, but would later return to their hometowns. Many of the acrobats were from Wuqiao, a county in Hebei province 180 miles south of Beijing. Former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, who regularly met performers trained in Wuqiao during his overseas travels, declared it worthy of the title: “The home of Chinese acrobatics.”

You've accessed an article available only to subscribers
VIEW OPTIONS
Share this article
Open WeChat and scan the QR code
Copyright © 2017 Caixin Global Limited. All Rights Reserved.