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olympic taiji

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:04 am
by fol
So, did anyone recognize a taiji style that could have inspired the 2008 performers in the opening ceremony, or do you think it was completely invented?

Anyhow, gives new meaning to the word "spectacular"!

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 6:58 pm
by Louis Swaim

I thoroughly enjoyed the opening ceremony! As for the sequence you're referring to, I viewed it more as interpretive dance, with elements of taijiquan (Yang and Chen) as well as other styles of Wushu. The degree of precision and synchrony was stunning.

I especially liked the opening with the 2,008 drummers, and would like to have been present for that! It was a particularly appropriate and auspicious commencement of the Olympics, putting me in mind of the taijiquan phrase "qi yi gudang" -- "the qi should be roused and made vibrant." You might say that it "resonated" for me!

Take care,

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 08-10-2008).]

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:39 pm
by Barbara Davis

I've got some news reports up about the Olympic opening ceremony and taiji at with links to articles.


PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 4:39 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings Barbara,

Nice to see you here! The artistry of film director Zhang Yimou was very much in evidence in the opening ceremonies, with many layers of historical, literary, and fine art references.

I was very much taken by the drum section, with the chanting of the line from the Analects welcoming “friends from far away.” The drums were called “fou” drums, but of course this is just a fanciful identification to link these modern high-tech drums to imagery from early history. The China Daily article that you link notes that they resemble “ding” vessels. Those were typically square or rectangular, and of cast bronze, so we’re fortunate that many examples of ding vessels from the Zhou period still exist. Surviving examples of fou vessels from the Shang are harder to find, since they were typically earthenware. There are early references to celebrants drumming on fou wine vessels after consuming its contents, and fou are also identified in some sources as musical instruments consisting of earthenware vessels with skins drawn across their openings to make a drum. Zhang Yimou named the drum sequence ji fou er ge—“strike the earthenware vessel and sing.” This could be an allusion to any of a number of early literary sources that mention fou drumming, including a line in the Li hexagram (#30) of the Book of Changes
as well as refs in the Zhuangzi, the Lushi chunqiu, Huainanzi, Shijing, etc. to drumming and singing.

Take care,