Baimaonu Reversed Metamorphosis, Ballet: From White to Red at Shehuo Rite

In the opera version, Xi’er’s metamorphosis is just that: she turns into a fairy/monster implacable as an avenging ghost (see prior post, land reform enactment in Shaoxing, who can n’er more speak, only inhabit (terrify) the imaginations of the wicked propertied class. Behind or before that (presumptively in very ancient times, she is revealed as a kind of yedi, covered head to foot in grey-white fur, head to toe (this “past” is specifically mentioned in her anguished words 浑身变白 “my entire body is covered in white”. This folkloric version of the opera however leaves her in a suspended condition, capable only of ghastly terrorizing as revenge. (In the original 1945-6 opera she DOES make it back to her natal home, but we are left with no clue as to what will happen next.)

That incompletion, however, leaves the tale inadequately closed, if only that its performance eventually became part of the yangge (shehuo) carnival, wherein the contracts that had caused her father’s murder were to be burned en masse. For which operation nothing could be better suited than
the ancient ceremonial vessel 鼎 ding. Often described (shown) as a Zhou period bronze – as here.

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