Bouyei Bayin, singing with eight intruments

Updated: 2017-08-18

Bayin is a vocal folk art form popular in the villages and towns of the Bouyei ethnic group within Guizhou province. It is also called "singing with eight intruments" (ba yin zuo chang).

A large majority of people from the Bouyei ethnic group lives in the Qianxinan Bouyei and Miao autonomous prefecture. The Bouyei people possess a rich variety of folk literature, including fairy tales, fables, folk songs, proverbs and poems.

Bayin, a ballade-style singing of Bouyei folk songs often performed during holidays and weddings, is usually accompanied by eight different musical instruments, including flutes, drums and stringed instruments, with performers singing and playing in turn.

The history of Bayin can be traced back more than two thousand years. The melodies and lyrics of the songs have been passed down orally from generation to generation. It is said that the art form was very popular during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911), and that there were more than three hundred bands performing in the Bayin style during those time periods. 

However, the current existence and development of the art form is facing a huge challenge, and is in need of urgent protection and support. 

Baiyin style vocal performance gradually formed over the long-term storytelling practice of the Bouyei. The art form was recognized as one of China's intangible cultural heritages in May 2006.