Chinese Storytelling


Vibeke Børdahl

Jette Ross



Large-scale Registration of Chinese Storytelling

Project leader: Vibeke BÝrdahl
Co-leader: Fei Li
Storytellers: Dai Buzhang, Fei Li, Gao Zaihua, Ren Dekun
Chinese photographers: Li Xin and Chen Wei

Editors of monograph-with-catalogue:

Vibeke Børdahl, Fei Li and Huang Ying

The aim of the project is to preserve the living art of the Yangzhou storytellers for later generations to enjoy and study. On the threshold of the 21th century we witness the end of an era: the storytellers who were educated according to the age-old principles of 'transmitting by mouth and teaching from the heart' are now retired and many of them in high age. The younger generation has not had the experience of living for years in the house of the master, learning from his oral performances and demonstrations, and the former rigorous education seems largely incompatible with modern lifestyle. If we want to preserve some of the repertoires in full as they were usually told in the traditional surroundings, we are in the twelfth hour to do so! A handfuld of old masters are still able to perform their sagas in daily sessions through several months.


In the present project the entire repertoires of four distinguished masters of Yangzhou storytelling, Dai Buzhang, Fei Zhengliang, Gao Zaihua and Ren Jitang, are filmed on video and preserved on CD-rom. The project was initiated during the fall of 2001 and filming took place from 2002-2003. 360 hours of storytelling were filmed in daily sessions. The set of films was converted into 4 sets of VCDs, donated to research institutions in Asia and the West: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing; Academia Sinica, Fu Ssu-nien Library, Taipei; Library of Congress, Washington D.C., Danish Folklore Archives, Copenhagen.

From 2004 the project is part of the larger project "Traditional Oral Culture in the Modern Media World of Asia -- The Case of Chinese Storytelling"


4 sets of 360 hours of storytelling on VCD, available for research in the above mentioned libraries.

On-line Catalogue

Vibeke Børdahl, Fei Li and Huang Ying (eds):
Four Masters of Chinese Storytelling