Henan is situated in the central-eastern part of China on the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River. As Henan is mainly located to the south of the Yellow River, hence the name Henan (South of the River). Some people refer to Henan as a museum of Chinese history and culture. In the 5,000-year history of China, more than 200 kings and emperors of over 20 kingdoms and dynasties set up their capitals in Henan. Of the eight ancient capital cities of China, Henan has four, including Luoyang, Kaifeng, Anyang and Zhengzhou.
Instead of reading those boring history books, you can find some more direct and interesting ways to discover the long history and culture of China when traveling in Henan, by enjoying the wonderful shows and performances, such as Henan Opera, Shaolin Zen Music Ritual and acrobatics and so on.
Henan Opera (Yu Opera)
Henan Opera (Yu Opera), also called Henan Bangzi and Henan clapper opera, is one of five famous national opera forms in China, alongside Peking Opera, Huangmei Opera, Yueju Opera and Sichuan Opera (Chuanju). Henan Opera’s styles are: First, it is very passionate and good at staging big shows; second, it is very natural, common, and close to ordinary people’s life; and last but not the least, the conflicts are sharp and the stories complete. Masterpieces of Henan Opera are Duihuaqiang (Two-spear Fight), Sanshangjiao (Thrice on Board the Sedan Chair) and Zhamei’an (The Beheading of an Ungrateful Husband).
Shaolin Zen Music Ritual (Zen Music Shaolin Grand Ceremony)
Shaolin Zen Music Ritual is a large outdoor real landscape performance held in the Daixian Valley of the Mount Songshan near Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan Province. The performance features the world’s biggest lights system that has over 2,800 lights stretching along Mt. Songshan from the foot to the summit; the world’s most difficult and highest fighting spectacles and the world’s most magnificent scene of monks’ chanting. The entire performance includes five chapters, which are the Melody of Water – paradise of Zen, the Melody of Wood – Quiescence of Zen, the Melody of Wind – Dynamics of Zen, the Melody of the Light – the Mediation of Zen and the Melody of the Stone – Praise of Zen.
Dreamlike Glory of Song Dynasty in Kaifeng
A grand performance on water about nine classic poems of the Song Dynasty and the famous painting of “Along the River during the Qingming Festival” will bring you a selected image of the Northern Song Dynasty, evoking your thought about the nation’s prosperity and decline and the desire of the rise of the nation.
Puyang acrobatics has been much favored by audiences at home and abroad, with its bold and unrestrained performances and characteristic of folk features in the Yellow River Plain. Dongbeizhuang Village in Puyang City, Henan Province and Wuqiao County in Hebei Province are called the two hometowns of Chinese acrobatics. Some representative shows include “Kicking bowls on high bicycle”, “Double-swing trapeze”, “Three stage ladders”, “Double shaking boards”, “Flying trapeze” and “Lion dancing”.
The Magnificent Show of the Grand River in Zhengzhou
The Show of the Grand River, with an overview of the five thousands years’ civilization of China and the culture of the central plains, is what you must see when you are in Henan. In the show, six features are stressed: “Ancient”, “River”, “Boxing”, “Buddhism”, “Flower” and “Root”.