The Research Frustrations of “The Hundred Entertainments”
“Sword-swallowing, fire-eating, juggling, acrobatics, ropewalking, tumbling, and similar stage tricks had come from the nomads of Central Asia by the 2nd century BCE and were called the “hundred entertainments.” During the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) palace singers acted out warriors’ stories, the forerunners of military plays in later Chinese opera, and by the time of the Three Kingdoms (220-280 CE) clay puppets were used to enact plays. These evolved into glove-and-stick puppets in later years.”
– The Culture of China edited by Kathleen Kulper
While digging around to find some information on some specific types of juggling in history I found a curious reference to something called “the Hundred Entertainments.” I started digging.
The most complete bit of information I have so far been able to dig up is the above quote.
The problem is that it seems to be used almost exactly word for word in a whole bunch of advertising materials for “The Peking Acrobats” who have toured in a wide variety of places and spread their fliers everywhere.
Trying to find more about the actual nature of the Hundred Entertainments, on the other hand, is making me crazy. It is clear that there should be a wealth of useful information for my purposes regarding the continued development of my Carnival project, but finding it among the fliers for every venue the Peking Acrobats have ever been is a challenge.
I have managed to find a book on Chinese culture which appears to have a whole section on the “Hundred Entertainments” but it’s not available electronically. It is available from a used book seller for $3 so I’ve ordered it. Impatience abounds.
For now I shall shake my fist at the excellent advertising engine of the Peking Acrobats.