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date: 20 October 2019

Abing [Hua Yanjun]locked

  • Jonathan P.J. Stock

Extract

[Hua Yanjun]

(b Wuxi, Jiangsu province, Aug 20, 1893 or Nov 3, 1898; d Dec 4, 1950). Chinese folk musician. The illegitimate or adopted son of Daoist priest and musician Hua Qinghe in the city of Wuxi, Hua Yanjun also became a Daoist musician, performing in ritual instrumental ensembles and mastering several instruments, including pipa four-string lute and erhu two-string fiddle.

With Hua Qinghe’s death in the mid-1920s, Hua Yanjun inherited a small amount of property. However, visits to local brothels resulted in his contraction of gonorrhoea, leading eventually to blindness. At about this time, Hua appears to have become an opium smoker. Unable now to take part in Daoist ensembles, Hua, under the name Abing, became a street musician, specializing in extemporized songs based on local news. He also performed pipa, erhu and the three-string lute sanxian. Abing has typically been described as the archetypal Chinese folk musician; following political and social trends in China, he has been portrayed at various times in articles, books, film and an eight-part TV series as working-class revolutionary, romantically inspired composer and Daoist musical craftsman....

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