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.

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About santiagosgrimoire

Magician, Entertainer, Actor, Cook, Leather Worker, Artist and generally very busy.

Posted on September 20, 2012, in Carnival and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Helping in research I came across this interesting link regarding acrobatics, juggling, and magic in the Han Dynasty.

    http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_artqa/2003-09/24/content_37714.htm

    Look at the very last paragraph (#6). That’s where I’m starting to pull my hair out.

  2. Hey, found the term when i was researching on the origin of devilstick and have been as disappointed as you 😦 … did you receive the book by now and did it have valuable information ? kind regards Lukas

    • santiagosgrimoire

      I have gotten the book. While it has a great deal of useful information from more modern sources, it does not have enough to be useful for my SCA research. Very disappointed.

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