Quyi – Chinese Singing and Storytelling

As one of the older performing arts in China, Quyi is rooted in China’s history and culture, which developed during the Tang Dynasty and flourished in the Song Dynasty.

 Chinese Quyi focuses on how the “Body Talks”. 

 During a performance, the actors pay attention to the use of the hands, eyes, body and step.  The focus of this performing art consists of narrative storytelling using staged monologues and dialogues.

It is mostly a spoken performance from one to four people. Do not confuse it with Chinese opera.

Hand gestures are used to present the story’s plot while the eyes are the most important part of a Quyi performance. The eyes show anger, sorrow and joy. Using the eyes in this way is an art in itself.

Since there are different schools of Quyi, the hand, eyes, body and steps are used differently from school to school.

There are fifty-six minorities in China and minority produced Quyi varies and is different from the Han majority.

In fact, since Quyi is a vital part of China’s minority culture, soon after the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, the Chinese Quyi Association was organized. Today, more than 3,500 members belong and the association publishes a Quyi magazine.

Sources: Cultural Traditions of China, China Fact Tours, and the Ministry of Culture of the PRC

Also see Jingyun Dagu, Beijing’s Story Telling Opera


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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