Narrated in the language of the Hezhen people of north-east China, and taking both verse and prose forms, Yimakan storytelling consists of many independent episodes depicting tribal alliances and battles, including the defeat of monsters and invaders by Hezhen heroes. Yimakan performers improvise stories without instrumental accompaniment, alternating between singing and speaking, and make use of different melodies to represent different characters and plots. Yimakan plays a key role in preserving the Hezhen mother tongue, religion, beliefs, folklore and customs.
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