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Zouma Stories: As Long as Humans Talk, There Will be Stories

Zouma Ancient Town, connecting with Bishan and Jiangjin, is an important station between Chongqing and Chengdu in the middle of the Ming Dynasty (1460 – 1552 A.D.). Because of its unique location, there are traders, hawkers, writers, and poets from south to north, shuttled this town. Travelers gathered Zouma, in order to have a break. In addition to eliminate the tiredness of the journey, visitors here also loved to talk in the teahouse to exchange information and stories about the journey. Therefore, Zouma Stories appeared in the public, with simple language and popular catchy characters.

Zouma stories belong to local traditional folk literature of Zouma Town, Jiulongpo District. Meanwhile, it was listed on the national intangible cultural heritage in 2006. The content of those stories is complex and diverse. Basically, Zouma stories contain several general types of folklore stories, such as myths, fairy tales, animal and plant legends, folklore legends, and life stories. In a manner of speaking, it has a wide range of cultural information. Integrating with the local and foreign cultures, stories here are characterized by the diversity of timing and occasions. Moreover, each of those stories has its own characteristics and does not repeat each other, with strong Bashu culture (Chongqing-Sichuan culture) also runs through. For example, the legend of the Ba people’s totem of dragon and snake is an important relic of ancient Ba culture.

Besides, the folk tales of Zouma Town are cleverly conceived and lively in the plot, with simple and vivid forms. Also, the tales require storytellers to imitates what they are telling about, so as to vividly reproduce the scene of the story. In storytelling, storytellers will intersperse folk songs to enrich the expressiveness of the story and make the story more interesting.

Nowadays, since Zouma stories are kinds of oral culture, it is hard to protect no physical culture. Local culture keepers let their children learn to tell and perform stories in order to protect this kind of culture. Zhu Wei, the Zouma storyteller and the teacher of Zouma Primary School, had tried to write books, collecting lots of stories to spread oral culture. He usually tells stories to visitors and locals in the ancient town and teaches students in the school to tell and perform stories at the same time.

“Only by letting people accept their culture from an early age will they fall in love with it and have the determination to protect it,” said Zhu Wei. “I have no worries about Zouma stories disappearing because as long as humans still talk, there will be stories.”

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