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Yueju: The Representation of HK Intangible Cultural Heritage

October 9, 2010

Yueju (Cantonese opera粵劇) is one of the most popular forms of performance in Hong Kong, which was officially inscribed onto UNESCO (United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009 and the first item of the world intangible cultural heritage in Hong Kong.

Yueju is one of the major categories of Chinese theatre genre originating in South China. It had been inherited since Ming Dynasty (around 16th century) and is still popular today in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Macau and even Singapore and Malaysia, places where many South Chinese people live. For example, according to Mr. Wong Siu Sang (黃肇生), the vice- director in general administration of Chinese Artist Association of Hong Kong (八和會館), there are over a thousand Yueju performances staging every year in average.

It is a tradition Chinese art form involving music, singing, acting, martial arts and acrobatic. The language used in Yueju is Cantonese. Normally, actors and actresses in Yueyu make up with white and red face and dress up in gorgeous Chinese clothes. Most of the plots of Yueyu are based on Chinese history, famous Chinese classics or myths. That’s way scholars point out that Yueju effectively reveals Chinese culture and philosophy. According to UNESCO (United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), intangible cultural heritage is manifestation of a cultural which is living expression and the tradition that countless groups and communities worldwide have inherited from their ancestors and transmit to their descendant. Starting from 16th century, Yueju has been inherited from generation to generation in South China. It reflects culture of South China in a large extend. It is certainly one of the representations of Hong Kong intangible cultural heritage.

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