Cultural heritage on the Tibetan plateau: Batang Xianzi

Batang, a remote county located in the southeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Region of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, is renowned for its millennial cultural heritage – Xianzi.

The word “Xianzi” could both refer to the Tibetan-style two-string instrument, which resembles the traditional Chinese bowed string instrument of erhu, and, more often, an art form that features a beautiful mix of instrumental music, song and dance.


Xianzi was the most popular recreational activity among local Tibetans. Batang, hailed as the “hometown of Xianzi” in China, has carried on the traditional custom for generations.

It is often performed on joyous occasions, such as holidays and weddings, as well as during harvest celebrations. Several men usually play the instrument and lead the dance, while others, dressed in long-sleeved clothes, sing and dance to the music. People usually dance in circles and wave long sleeves, hence another name, “circle dance”.

The art form was listed among the first group of items of China’s national intangible heritage in 2006.

Read more: Must-see destinations on Music Voyage: Batang

(Cover image by Feng Yuan)