The cave dwelling, alias farmers' cave, is the representative local residence of Yan'an and can be easily found on the vast loess plateau of northern China. It is a kind of energy-efficient, eco-friendly mode of living which some Chinese have adopted for thousands of years. According to the local conditions, a cave dwelling is usually dug into a hillside of tightly packed loess. With a brick facade and the inset of the peculiarly decorated door and windows, it is of primitive simplicity, showing the honest, simple, modest and reserved character as well as the bold creativity of local people. A cave dwelling is easy and cheap to construct, and solid in texture. The natural insulation of the earth makes it warm in winter and cool in summer, resulting in high energy efficiency and a perfect shield for the inhabitants.
Inside the Cave Dwelling
Yan'an Folk Songs
Video of Northern Shaanxi Folk Song Performance
Yan'an Folk Songs, namely Northern Shaanxi Folk Songs, date back thousands of years ago. Having taken root and flourished on the Loess Plateau, they have developed into various types, depicting different aspects of the content of life. Both the traditional folk songs and the revolutionary songs are popular among the local people, showing their sensibility and desirability, including love and affection. The songs also reflect the resistance to the former feudal and colonial rulers of the old society. These songs mainly are collective creations with full-bodied local features, simple but vivid lyrics, smooth, beautiful melody and free rhythm.
Northern Shaanxi Folk Songs
sung by a local people
Drum Art is a special art form of Yan'an including performances of many kinds of drums such as Ansai Yaogu (Waist Drum), Luochuan Biegu, Yichuan Xionggu (Chest Drum), Zhidan Shangu (Fan Drum) and so on. Ansai Waist Drum Dance is the most famous for its rhythmic and sonorous drumbeats as well as its quick variation of body movements. When performing, the dancers wear sheepskin jackets, red sashes, puttees or boots, and white towels on their heads.
Drum Art, Northern Shaanxi People
Paper-cut is a kind of Chinese folk art to be found in Yan'an, especially in its Ansai and Luochuan Counties. It is originated from the ornamental cutting of clothing material, depicting the various aspects of the life of local people, especially the life in cave houses. Scenes such as farming, poultry breeding, harvesting, bazaar trading, and wedding are frequently seen in paper-cut. On festive occasions, paper-cut is used as decoration on the door, window and ceiling of the cave dwelling, kang, furniture or even clothes. Its vivid description and artistic style show the wit, penetrating observation and bold imagination of the local people as well as the appealing traditional folk art and culture. Nowadays, being named 'living fossil of culture', Yan'an paper-cut has already become a popular artwork in both home and abroad.
Peasant Painting is another notable thing here. With an abstract, exaggerated and concise style, Peasant Painting here is always lively and based on the senses and emotion. The various paintings with simple, fresh brushwork, romantic imagination and bold innovation have been highly praised by many foreign experts who have suggested that Yan'an Peasant Painting can even compare favorably with Picasso works.
In addition, Yan'an New Year pictures, popular rural folk dance of Yang Ge, wood engravings, root carvings, and embroideries are also recommendable.