- A generic term for China's vocal arts, which encompasses about350 provincial styles of story-telling and balladry, often accompaniedby gestures and mime. The performers sing or recite to traditionalrhythmic accompaniment from drums, wooden clappers, or stringed instruments.The subject matter is taken from epics and romantic novels about China'spast, as well as from contemporary events and issues, which are oftenpresented in comical and satirical skits.
Early sources for the Quyi (as for Chinese acting ingeneral) were the Buddhist sutras, the entertainments presented byjesters at the Han courts, and comedy routines from the zajuvariety plays. Public story-telling flowered during the Sung dynasty(960 - 1279). Although the Quyi story-tellers were laterbanished to the streets and were banned altogether during the CulturalRevolution, their skills are highly valued in China today.