Wuqiao: Home of Chinese Acrobatics
Chinese acrobatics has a very long history and is an excellent and precious cultural legacy of the Chinese nation. There are a lot of acrobatics village in China, e.g. Liaocheng of Shandong Province, Yancheng of Jiangsu Province, Puyang of Henan Province, Tianmen of Hubei Province, Guangde of Anhui Province, Wuqing of Tianjin City, Wuqiao, Suning and Bazhou of Hebei Province. However, as to the history, the influence among people, and the influence in both domestic and abroad, Wuqiao is the most famous one.
Wuqiao County is internationally recognized as the birthplace of Chinese acrobatics. Its fame is drawing an increasing number of tourists every year. For it is in Wuqiao that visitors can witness the superb display of both modern and traditional acrobatic skill. The History of Wuqiao County records that lamps lighted up the whole county of Wuqiao for three days during festivals, people set off firecrackers and performed acrobatics, and the local feudal officials did not practice curfew in the period.
The tomb murals of the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550) in the Southern and Northern Dynasties Period (386-581) unearthed from Xiaomachang Village of Wuqiao County in 1958 depict the performances of handstands, plate spinning, deft horsemanship and so on. However, it was after the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) that acrobatics of Wuqiao gained much reputation. Before that, acrobatics in Henan Province was much influential. After the Yuan Dynasty was established, the capital was moved from Kaifeng of Henan to Beijing, and the acrobatics in Wuqiao of Hebei, which neighbors Beijing, began to prosper and was increasingly influential. The county has now become the home of Chinese acrobatics.
Located at the southeast tip of Hebei Province, Wuqiao County covers an area of 583 square kilometers with a population of 270,000 and 444 natural villages under its jurisdiction. Acrobatic art has a wide mass foundation in Wuqiao, and almost each village has acrobats.
People in Wuqiao today, young or old, often possess astonishing acrobatic ability. It is no wonder that the county has produced many of the most famous acrobats. Wuqiao performers can be found in acrobatic troupes throughout China and across the world. When Premier Zhou Enlai visited European countries, he found Wuqiao acrobats nearly each time he met with overseas Chinese. He said happily, Wuqiao is really worth the title of 'home of Chinese acrobatics'.
Based on the far-reaching influence of Wuqiao acrobatics in China and the world as well and its wide mass foundation, Hebei Province decided to hold the Wuqiao International Acrobatics Festival in 1987 to carry forward the traditional culture of the Chinese people and promote Sino-foreign exchange of acrobatic art, as well as to elevate the reputation of Hebei Province and Wuqiao at home and overseas and push forward the overall development of the opening-up, economy, culture and society of Hebei Province.