Host City
Land of masculinity
By Dong Jirong ( )
Updated: 2011-03-04

Shaanxi, the seat of several dynasties in China’s history, is the epitome of the traditional patriarchal system, which prioritized men over women. As a result social life has been somewhat masculinized.

This is further heightened by the Loess Plateau, where Shaanxi was located. In daily life, men in Shaanxi to this day drink strong spirits, eat with big bowls, and scream the bold local opera.

Men in Shaanxi prefer the strong alcoholic beverage Xi Feng. It numbs the tongue and the drinkers feel a thread of fire going down the throat at a sip.

Land of masculinity

One of the top alcohol brands in China, Xi Feng has its origin in Fengxiang Country, Shaanxi. Traditionally, it has about 60 percent of alcoholic content. Tasty and aromatic as it is, Xi Feng is strong enough to ignite. People even joke it’s a time bomb if one is drinking and smoking at the same time.

But men in Shaanxi love it simply because of its high alcoholic content. They believe the beauty of spirits lies in alcoholicity, a sign of manliness.

A saying goes as: Bowls from which Shaanxi people eat are as big as washbasins.

Land of masculinity

The “old bowls” produced in Yaozhou Country, Shaanxi, have for centuries won favor among Shaanxi people. The word “old” doesn’t refer to a long history, but the large size of the bowls. They are usually deep and about 33cm in diameter, reminding people of washbasins.

The admiration of big bowls may have its origin in the old-time belief that the strength of man is measured by how much he can consume at a meal. Nowadays, the big old bowls still have a secure place in restaurants.

Opera Qinqiang

Land of masculinity

Bold and unrestrained, this art has earned sweeping popularity in Shaanxi and is nicknamed “the soccer of Shaanxi people.”

Other than singing like the other operas being performed, the local opera Qinqiang is screamed.

The arias are rich and masculine, which are usually snarled and screamed out by the male roles. It’s joked that three “enoughs” are necessary for a performance: the stage must be solid enough so that it won’t collapse when the performers are singing; secondly, the performers must be strong enough so that they won’t tire out; and thirdly, the spectators must be audacious enough so that they won’t be too scared to enjoy the performance. Just imagine if all locals gather together to snarl or scream the bold opera! It will be, without exaggerating, as overwhelming as the World Cup.

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