Taken to tusk: preserving the art of shuaya

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated:  February 28, 2019 L M S


Xue Qiaoping performs "teeth play" in a pingdiao opera, Jinlian Zhanjiao ("Jinlian fights the dragon") in Jiujiang village, Ninghai county, Zhejiang province, on Feb 8. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY

Seeing Xue Qiaoping wearing a short jacket, a leather beret and a pink scarf, it is hard to imagine how she would look on stage with 10 tusks protruding from her mouth. 

Xue is an exponent of shuaya, meaning "teeth play", a highly unusual performance that is part of pingdiao (flat tone), a local folk opera of Ningbo, Zhejiang province. 

Before going on stage, actors insert tusks-which are about 6 to 8 centimeters long and taken from a male wild boar-into their mouths. The tusks are moved in and out using the mouth and tongue to reflect characters' changes of emotions, as songs are sung and lines spoken.

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