Yang Liangen is a xiaorehun performer. [Photo/hangzhou.com.cn]
Xiaorehun, also known as xiaoluoshu, is a form of folk art that features comic monologues and ballad singing.
Originating in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and the early Republic of China (1912-49) era, xiaorehun emerged with peddlers selling pear syrup sugar from street to street to make a living. In order to attract passersby and gain popularity, sugar sellers began performing talent shows such as telling jokes, stories and news, and gradually expanded their performances to folk songs, ditties, and opera music.
As xiaorehun performers mostly expose social evils, mock the dark side of authorities, or make up content and plots to make their shows more interesting, they would lie about being sick and spout lies, which is coincidently the meaning of rehun in the Hangzhou dialect to evade accountability and persecution from the authorities.
Thanks to the renowned xiaorehun performer Du Baolin, the art form has become popular in not only Hangzhou but also the rest of Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and Shanghai.
Xiaorehun was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage item on May 20, 2006.