Marvelous frescoes on the precipices of Zhuang Ethnic Group

Marvelous frescoes on the precipices

On the banks of the long Zoujiang River stand strangely shaped mountains and precipices. Mountains reflect themselves in the water, forming marvelous natural scenery. In 1956, just on these dangerous precipices, people found many pictures in dark red, featuring human, animals, bronze drums and boats etc.— Huashan fresco. These pictures are roughly drawn, half-hidden, with crude lines. After seeing them, many scholars were full of praises, “Who wielded giant pens and composed such great works? It must be the nature.” “Marvelous drawing skills, rare in the world. Standing in the rain and wind for years, they remain fresh as ever.”

Background Information of Zhuang Ethnic Group

The Zhuang are the largest minority in China with about 17 million members. Virtually indistinguishable from Han Chinese, they live primarily in western Guangxi Province, where they make up a third of the province’s population, and rule their territory through a system based on village chiefs in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. They are closely related to the Bouyei, Maonan and Mulam.

Introduction of Marvelous frescoes on the precipices

Huashan fresco is distributed in seven counties, Ningming, Pingxiang, Longzhou, Chongzuo, Futuo, Daxin, and Tiandeng among the river basin of the Zuojiang River and its branches Mingjiang River, Heishuihe River, and Shuikouhe River. So far, 183 spots with 287 picture groups have been found in 84 places. This giant gallery, extending over 200 kilometers, with the sky as the roof and the mountains as the screen, is rare in the world both in scale and quantity.

Especially in Huashan Mountain in Ningming County, on the 200-meter-wide, 40-meter-high precipices hanging over the river there remain bright and colorful pictures, more than 1,800 of which are still intelligible. Due to its grand size, people use the mountain name to call all the frescos nearby — Huashan fresco.

Main Subjects

The main subjects of Huasan fresco are human beings, animals and instruments, listed in the descending order. Human figures are front-faced or sided, yet all with upright hands and bowing elbows, two parting feet in a half squat posture. The height ranges between 3 m to 30 cm. Animals are mostly dogs and as well as a small number of birds. Instruments include round-head knives, long swords, clocks, drums, bells, and masks, etc. The basic arrangement of a picture is like this: a high front-faced man carrying a sword on the waist in the middle, with other figures, animals, and utensils orderly around it. These frescos are painted but not drawn, therefore it is hard to distinguish the countenances; yet the lines are rugged, vigorous, simple but vivid. According to a relevant scientific assessment in 1986, these pictures appeared between the Spring and Autumn period, the Warring States and the Eastern Han Dynasty. They are the valuable cultural heritage of Zhuang’s ancestors Luoyue people.

Content of Huashan Frescos

Concerning the content of Huashan frescos, scholars hold diverse explanations. Some think the pictures unfold the scenes of victory celebration by the soldiers back from the battlefield. Others think they depict the guardian god of Zhuang Nationality – Frog God and the grand ceremony held in his name. Anyway, Huashan fresco fully embodies the brilliant painting skills and creativity of Zhuang’s ancestors and provides us important materials for studying the history and culture of the Zhuang Nationality.

How to Get There

There are many buses to Pingxiang from 8:00-18:00 every day at the Nanning bus terminal. Ahourly service and get off at Ningming station.