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The Guizhou Mountains are high and deep, moreover, transportation is problematic. However, bamboo grows abundantly in the basin of Chishui River, hence it has become a form of transport for people on both sides of the river. In the past, the inhabitants of these areas often used bamboo as a means of transport across the river as it was a very convenient way. In remote villages, people who had to move, for example, on the way to the market by the Chishui River, paddling on single bamboos or trees allowed them to save time as well as a simple and convenient way of transportation.
Legends say that Duzhupiao comes from the Qin and Han dynasties. At that time, the Bozhou area was rich in the best and most valuable timber for construction. The imperial court sent timber pickers to buy it from the pristine forests of Chishui and Xishui in Bozhou, such places were only just beginning to be known to the outside world. In the past, the Chishui River was not navigable and the timber was very valuable, so one or more people were allocated to transport it and the timber was tied into larger rafts and shipped to the south of the Yangtze River to reach the capital. During the slow and long process of transporting the timber, people gradually got used to standing on one tree and operating sticks as well as competition and play.
In the early Qing Dynasty, people have discovered that bamboo was better than wood, so they changed wood to a single bamboo. As the water rose each year during the Dragon Boat Festival, the residents of Xishuitucheng and farmers in the suburbs gathered in groups and competed by swimming on a single bamboo.
Basin of the Chishui River during the wars of Qin and Han belonged to the core of the ancient Yelang Kingdom. Yelang is a country of bamboos, so swimming on bamboo was the most basic life skill of the Yelang people who lived by the river.
In 1935 when Mao Zedong led the Red Army four times through Chishui. The bridges over the river had been bombed by the Kuomintang, the soldiers were unable to cross the river. At a critical juncture, the Red Army mobilized the local people and they used the old method of crossing the river using bamboo. The army left the encirclement which was of great importance for the victory of the Long March.
In 1998, in ancient cliff tombs from the Han and Jin dynasties, Chishui Fuxing dug on Ma'anshan. This find shows that the tradition of swimming on a tree trunk in the basin of the Chishui River has a long history.
Swimming on a single bamboo stick is a unique skill of the people of northern Guizhou from the Chishui River.
Duzhupiao is a traditional sport in Guizhou Province. Athletes who do not wear shoes use individual bamboo sticks as boats and oars to navigate on the water. The bamboo sticks are 15-20 centimetres in diameter and 10 meters long, while the small straight bamboo sticks used as oars are 5 cm in diameter and 4 meters long. Competitors move them alternately left and right to keep balance on the bamboo. Movements must be coordinated and consistent.
Competitors compete in short and long-distance speed events in individual and group categories.
The bamboo used for swimming must not have any distortions and its buoyancy is sufficient to bear the weight of a person. Suitable bamboo can be found deep in the bamboo forest of Guizhou Province on a sunny slope with good soil and water. Once cut, it is naturally dried for over 20 days.
Currently, the competition uses sticks consisting of 3 sections of round pipes made of glass fibre reinforced plastic with a total length of 7 meters and a diameter of 0.16 m. It is characterized by greater buoyancy which allows for greater swimming speeds but is also less deformable, it is easy to disassemble and is more convenient to transport than natural bamboo. The smaller stick consists of 2 sections of round pipes made of glass-fibre reinforced plastic with a total length of 4.5 meters.
Competitions shall be held in still water with the starting line parallel to the finish line and perpendicular to the fairway line. The width of the channel should not be less than 8 meters along the entire length of the track. Depending on the number of participating teams and conditions, from 3 to 6 players take part at the same time. The lane number is usually counted from the position of the judge's position, the closest lane is the first lane, the farthest lane is the last lane. The water depth in the shallowest part of the canal shall not be less than 2.5 meters and there shall be no floating objects or underwater obstacles. There should be a designated preparation area behind the start line and a buffer zone not less than 30 meters wide behind the finish line. Buoys must be placed along the track and their colors should be yellow and red.
The buoy is round with a diameter of 0.35 meters. Yellow buoys are placed from the start point within 30 meters of the endpoint within 10 meters, red buoys within 20 meters from the endpoint within 4 meters. Marking posts 2 cm in diameter and 3 meters high should be placed on the extensions (over 6 meters) at both ends of the start and finish lines. The start and endpoints must be marked with the number of each lane. The boards are hung in the air not less than 3 meters above the water surface if conditions allow.
From generation to generation, Duzhupiao gradually evolved into a folk sports activity. Currently, this competition has become part of the Dragon Boat Festival and Dragon Boat Race, held each year.
In the 1970s, Duzhupiao was an obligatory celebration for Mao Zedong's Red Army.
In the late twentieth century, Duzhupiao rivalry appeared at the VI National Traditional Games of National Minorities in the characteristics of the Guizhou region show dispute. It was received with approval and since then Chishui Duzhu Drift has become famous all over the country. In 1999, at the VI National Traditional Sports Games of Ethnic Minorities, Chishui Duzhu Drift won a gold medal for his group performances and was often praised by various Chinese media. At the same time, as a traditional minority sport, it gradually spread and promoted all over Guizhou and the country. In 2007, Guizhou Province adopted Duzhupiao as a traditional ethnic minority sports competition. The first independent bamboo swimming competition was held in Honghuagang District, Guizhou Province. During the 9th National Traditional Minority Games, which took place on September 11, 2011 in the Guizhou region, the competition was held at the picturesque water base of Lake Hongfeng. After two days of competition, Hu Chaogui, a Miao player from Majiang, Guizhou, won the first prize in the men's category. And in the final of the women's 60 m race, a competitor from Guizhou also received the first prize.
Swimming on a single bamboo stick is the result of the hard work and wisdom of the Chishui ancestors and part of the region's heritage. Despite recognition in China, the Duzhupiao tradition must be protected. Actions leading to the preservation of this tradition may be the creation of an organization that protects this traditional sport whose task is to organize training, competitions and promote this sport as a tourist attraction in the Guizhou region.
The Chishui Regional Government considers Chishui Duzhu Drift to be an intangible cultural heritage. Consequently, specific measures have been approved for this purpose to protect the tradition of the heirs of the Chishui River.
Zunyi Honghuagang Duzhupiao Association (遵义市红花岗区独竹漂协会)
Fenghuang S Rd, Honghuagang District, Zunyi, Guizhou, Chiny
Sources of information