More than a dozen folk art groups from different countries are to congregate in Greater Tainan next month to attend the Nanying International Folklore Festival, a biennial event that celebrates its eighth edition this year.
The festival is set to open with an afternoon parade on Oct. 6, with performers and troupes from home and abroad performing on the streets of Sinying District (新營).
According to Cultural Affairs Bureau of Tainan City Government, the event organizer, the origin of the word nanying (南瀛) can be traced back to the Warring States Period in ancient China. The term yingzhou (瀛洲) first appeared during this period to indicate a mythical island in the Bohai Sea, a part of the Yellow Sea on the coast of Northeastern China.
As the Han-Chinese migrated southward, the words yingzhou and nanying became the names for Quanzhou (泉州) and Zhangzhou (漳州) in China’s Fujian Province during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the bureau’s researcher Lee Ming-yu (李明育) said.
“The inhabitants in Quanzhou and Zhangzhou referred to themselves as people of ying. As a large number of people immigrated to Taiwan from the these two regions during the Qing Dynasty, Taiwan became known as Nanying, Lee said.
The festival is to highlight cultural diversity and folk traditions from different corners of the world.
From Russia, the State Chuvash Academic Song and Dance Ensemble has preserved and promoted folk heritage of the Chuvash people since its establishmeny in 1924.
The Bulgarian troupe Sofia-6 was founded in 1976 by choreographer Nestor Nestorov in the hope of passing down traditional music and dance. Over the years, the troupe has trained more than 1480 performers and toured regularly around the world.
Closer to home, Miyabi Daiko has celebrated the art of taiko drumming for the past 20 years. Meanwhile, award-winning Sanggar Ayudha is to bring traditional Indonesian dance to the festival’s audience.
To further facilitate cultural exchanges, the organizer has arranged homestays with local families for the foreign performers. Elementary and high schools in Tainan as well as community-based art groups are also encouraged to visit the festival to share their experiences.
This year, 26 host families, 45 schools and nine local dance troupes have signed up to welcome the visiting guests.
The festival is set to take place between Oct. 6 and Oct. 14 at two main venues, Nanying Green Heart Park and Tainan Municipal Cultural Center, as well as at various locations across the greater Tainan areas. The event’s Web site, nyiff.tnc.gov.tw, is currently under construction, but should be ready by the end of next week, the bureau said.