9.1 C
New York
Friday, April 19, 2024
spot_img

Beijing residents play fetch with migratory birds in ancient Chinese tradition

  • In winter or early spring in Beijing, some residents engage in a tradition dating back to the Qing Dynasty where they play fetch with birds.
  • This tradition traces back to the 17th century to the early 20th century.
  • Only around 50 to 60 people are believed to still practice the tradition in modern Beijing.

Passersby in Beijing during winter or early spring might happen upon groups of residents playing fetch with birds. The players blow plastic beads into the air through carbon tubes for the birds — often from the migratory wutong species — to catch and return, in exchange for a treat.

It’s a Beijing tradition dating back to the Qing Dynasty, which ruled between the 17th century and early 20th century. Today, only about 50 to 60 people in Beijing are believed to still practice it.

Xie Yufeng, a 39-year-old cook, is one of them. Late Tuesday afternoon, Xie gathered with a few friends near Workers’ Stadium, where residents often congregate in the evenings to dance in tandem, practice tai chi or play the Chinese yo-yo.

BIRDS AS SYMBOLS OF WISDOM — AND WHAT THE OWL CAN TELL US ABOUT OURSELVES

Xie and his friends brought along their winged playmates — most of them wutong birds, with their distinctive yellow beaks and which fly southward from China’s northeast to Beijing every fall to escape the bitter winter.

Xie Yufeng, a 39-year-old cook, throws a bird up as he shoots a bead through a tube for it to catch in midair, practicing a Beijing tradition that dates back to the Qing Dynasty, outside a stadium on March 26, 2024, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Domesticating the birds and training them for the bead-catching game may take four to five months, Xie said. Players teach the birds to fetch by first throwing seeds into the air, and later replacing them with plastic beads. Every time the birds retrieve the beads, they are rewarded with a snack. In the past, the beads were made of bone.

“In order to do this well, patience is the most important quality for a player,” Xie said.

Bejing birds

A man prepares to throw a bird up as he shoots a bead through a tube for it to catch outside a stadium on March 26, 2024, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The tradition is said to have taken root in the capital with the arrival of the Qing Dynasty, a Manchu group that took control of Beijing in the mid-1600s.

Manchu nobles, living around the Forbidden City, are believed to have popularized catching and training birds as a pastime.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Today, residents of Beijing’s traditional alleyways, called hutong in Chinese, often still raise birds in cages and may even take the whole birdcages out for walks.

Bird catches beads

A wutong bird catches beads in its beak outside a stadium on March 26, 2024, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The wutong bird owners usually release them in late spring and allow them to migrate back to the northeast — only to catch or purchase new ones the following fall.

Source link

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

0FansLike
3,912FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe
- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles