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Home Travel in Shaanxi The Disappearing History Ⅶ-- Shanbei
The Disappearing History Ⅶ-- Shanbei
Travel in Shaanxi

Shanbei (shǎn běi 陕北) is Chinese holy land of revolution. The Party Central Committee, Chairman Mao (máo zhǔ xí 毛主席), and other proletarian revolutionaries have been living and fighting here for 13 years, leaving a large number of precious revolution heritages, revolution memorial and rich spiritual wealth - the spirit of the revolution in northern Shaanxi (shǎn xī 陕西). There are more than 140 revolution heritages in the city. The most important ones are Fenghuangshan Site (fèng huáng shān jiù zhǐ 凤凰山旧址), Yangjialing Site (yáng jiā lǐng jiù zhǐ 杨家岭旧址), Zaoyuan Site (zǎo yuán jiù zhǐ 枣园旧址), Wangjiaping Site (wáng jiā píng jiù zhǐ 王家坪旧址), Wayaobu Site (wǎ yáo bǔ 瓦窑堡) which is the formal site of Meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, etc. 

altShanbei Folk Song

Shanbei folk songs are the combination of spirit, thought and feelings of Shanbei people. They are the most direct reflections of Shanbei people’s life and are the close friends of Shanbei people. Shanbei is a place with all kinds of folk songs, the locals call the folk songs Shanqu (shān qǔ 山曲) or Suanqu (suān qǔ 酸曲). There are more than 20 kinds of folk songs. They are mainly contain Xintianyou (xìn tiān yóu 信天游), Xiaodiao (xiǎo diào 小调), Jiuge (jiǔ gē 酒歌), Yulinxiaoqu (yú lín xiǎo qǔ 渝林小曲), etc. Xintianyou is the most special and typical one.

altShanbei Paper-Cut

As a time-honored folk art form, Paper-Cut (jiǎn zhǐ 剪纸) is liked by all Chinese nationalities. Among all the paper-cuts, Shanbei Paper-Cut is particularly conspicuous. Shanbei Paper-Cut integrated the styles of Qin (qín 秦) and Han (hàn 汉), its style simple and graceful, unconstrained and decent as well. Shanbei Paper-Cut creations have been exhibited in Xi’an, Beijing, etc. For several consecutive years, and received high remarks. In recent years, Shanbei Paper-Cut handicraftsmen have frequently gone abroad to show their skills, and they have caused a great sensation.

altShanbei Story-telling

Shanbei Story-telling is an important form of Story-telling. It’s popular in Yan’an (yán'ān 延安) and Yulin (yú lín 榆林) in the north of Shaanxi. It’s a form for poor blind people to sing some legends with Shanbei folk tune at the beginning. Some years later, it developed as a form of rap performance for full-length story gradually.


Shanbei Yangko

Shanbei Yangko is a kind of popul rural folk dance in Plateau in northern Shaanxi. It’s also known as Naohonghuo (nào hóng huǒ 闹红火), Naoyangge (nào yāng gē 闹秧歌), Naoshehuo (nào shè huǒ 闹社火), etc. It’s mainly located in Shaanxi Yulin, Yan’an, Suide (suí dé 绥德), Mizhi (mǐ zhǐ 米脂) and other place with a long history and variety of forms and content. And Suide Yanggo is the most representative one.


Shanbei Cave

Cave is the unique form of residential areas in Loess Plateau of Northern China. The ancestors of the Chinese nation are in the cave to survive, multiply and grow up. There are several kinds of cave, such as the cave made of soil, the cave made of stone, and the cave made of bricks, etc. The cave is a product of the Loess Plateau, a symbol of the farmers in northern Shaanxi. Here, the people who had accumulated the ancient culture created the cave art (folk art) in northern Shaanxi. In the past, the most basic aspiration of a hard-working peasant was to build a few holes. With the caves and a wife, his life can be a whole life. The men dug in the yellow field and the women did housework and have babies in the caves. The small caves show a special custom of this yellow land.

About one or two hundred meters deep, water-repellent and vertical yellow soil is the premise of the development of the caves. Dry weather and little rain, cold winter, less timber and other natural conditions gave opportunity of development and continue of the caves which are comfortable and affordable. Because of the natural environment, geomorphologic features and local customs, the cave has several forms. However, the layout of the building structure can be summarized in the form of division-by cliffs, and the sinking of the three stand-alone forms.


The cave which is called Tuyaodong (tǔ yáo dòng 土窑洞) is made of loess. It’s usually about seven-eight meters deep, three meters high and three meters wide. The deepest ones can be about twenty meters. There are two kinds of window; one is square window which is as big as one square meter; the other one is round window which is as big as three-four square meters. They make caves warm in winter and cool in summer. The cave which is called Shiyaodong (shí yáo dòng 石窑洞) is made of stones. It’s usually about seven-nine meters deep, three meters wide and high. The way of building Zhuanyaodong (zhuān yáo dòng 砖窑洞), which is made of bricks, is the same as Shiyaodong and they look beautiful.


A yard usually has three or five caves. The cave in the middle is the main one. Some of the yards have front and back yards. Caves are generally built in the mountainside or in the foot where is full of sunshine. And they also plant some trees and flowers on the top of the caves.