Delicacy of tradition

By Theresa Miao (Shanghai Star)
Updated: 2006-06-15 17:12

Delicacy of traditionAlthough most of the city's night spots are devoted to electronic or jazz music, a consciousness of traditional Chinese music is re-emerging in some of them.

Juntian Qinyun is quite a new club, opening less than two months ago. Guests do not have to pay an admission fee, but nor can they expect exciting drinks or performances there.

What guests enjoy in the somewhat cramped space is a cup of tea, a peaceful atmosphere reminiscent of ancient China and music played on the revered ancient Chinese instrument called guqin, with its history of more than 3,000 years.

Owned and operated by a group of guqin lovers, Juntian Qinyun distinguishes itself from other local clubs by its attempt to promote traditional Chinese culture. Every moment spent in the building decorated with the woodcut calligraphy and guqin, furnished tastefully with wooden tables and chairs, feels like an encounter with history.

A regular get-together is now held in Juntian Qinyun every Friday night, running from 7:30 pm to 10 pm. People with an interest in traditional Chinese culture are encouraged by Gao and her friends to attend and join their club -- for free.

Word of the club spread among people soon after it opened and many brought their friends to visit after first checking it out on their own. As the room is a bit small and the number of seats is limited, many guests have to stand. However, this doesn't seem to dampen their interest.

Unusually, at the club's routine Friday event, a guqin professional first makes some introductory remarks about the history of the instrument, along with some other basic knowledge. Then the instrument is played, in a performance of one or perhaps several pieces of music. Some guqin learners are also invited to play and to exchange their understanding and learning experiences with each other.

Learning the guqin is considered a way to learn the essence of Chinese traditional culture, combining mind and nature. Many visitors come to the club with the intention of improving their knowledge of traditional culture and to make friends who share the same interests.

Alongside the routine event held every Friday, the club also offers a course to teach people how to play guqin. According to Gao, more than 100 people have already applied for the course.

Guqin is not the only theme of Juntian Qinyun. Nearly every weekend, some members of the club give talks on such topics as Chinese calligraphy, the culture of tea, antique furniture and the history of Chinese fans. The club also holds a "Wearing Han Costume" event every Saturday evening, in which guests are introduced to this more-than-3,000-year-old Chinese costume tradition and then encouraged to wear the long dresses themselves.

Many Han-costume enthusiasts even wear the traditional dresses to the Friday guqin-themed event, making the scene interesting and nostalgic. Wang Chong, a Shanghai white-collar worker and also one of these enthusiasts, said wearing a Han costume makes him feel proud to be Han Chinese by providing a certain exterior identity.

In Juntian Qinyun, not only guqin is expected to be revived, but also many other ancient Chinese traditions.

Juntian Qinyun
Location: No 4, Lane 1453, Yanan Xilu (By Dingxilu)
Opening time: 10 am-6 pm
Tel: 021-62405552


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