5. Landscapes and Flower Songs: Proposing the Hypothesis of Agriculturalist-Pastoralist Coalescence as the Origin of Hua’er Festivals
Lukas Park [+]
In order to illustrate how far music has been shaped by environmentally influenced living styles, this chapter focuses on hua'er, a vocal folk music style sung in China's ethnically diverse northwest. During the field research, one interlocutor, himself being an expert researcher on hua'er culture, offered a hypothesis of the probable origin of hua'er music: He proposed that hua'er, and especially hua'er festivals, are a result of the intermixing of pastoral and agricultural societies and lifestyles. The lyrics of hua'er songs are frequently connoted with sexual topics and activities, and the actual coalescence of nomad and farming cultures might indeed have happened right at the hua'er festivals. At these annual gatherings, many singers of different ethnic groups, cultural backgrounds, religions, and geographical areas meet and engage in singing with each other. Occasionally, sexual activities offside the main performances have been accounted for. This chapter thus aims to scrutinise the feasibility of these landscape-related activities being a probable driving force for the origin of hua'er festivals. Furthermore, also the circumstance why so far nobody has published this theory, albeit being very obvious, is scrutinised. Drawing on expert interviews and social media inquiries as researching methods, results point to both, academic as well as ideological grounds, being the reason why scholars are hesitant to publish this hypothesis of origin.