Shan Tianfang

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Shan Tianfang
Shan Chuanzhong (单传忠)

(1934-12-17)17 December 1934
Died11 September 2018(2018-09-11) (aged 83)[1]
Beijing, China
OccupationPingshu performer
Home townLaishui, Hebei, China
Spouse(s)Wang Quangui (王全桂)

Shan Chuanzhong (Chinese: 单传忠; pinyin: Shàn Chuánzhōng; 17 December 1934 – 11 September 2018), better known by stage name Shan Tianfang (Chinese: 单田芳; pinyin: Shàn Tiánfāng), was a Chinese pingshu performer.[2] He was a member of the third batch of national intangible cultural heritage inheritors, a member of Chinese Ballad Singers Association[3] and a member of China Society for Literature Popular Research. His language in pingshu performances was relatively plain, and he was specialized in presenting the images, the colors, and the emotions with sounds. Since the mid-1990s, his storytelling video shows have been broadcast on TV stations like CCTV. On 11 September 2018, 3:30 pm, He died at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital because of illness.

Pingshu career[edit]

Early years[edit]

In the 1950s, Shan's father was wrongly put into prison, thus his mother divorced his father. In 1953, he was accepted into Northeastern Engineering College. Subsequently however due to his physical condition and family problems, he gave up his studies and turned to perform pingshu, as an apprentice of Li Qinghai (Chinese 李庆海). In 1955, Shan entered the Anshan Quyi Tuan, where he was instructed by Zhao Yufeng[4] (Chinese:赵玉峰), a famous Xihe Dagu[5] performer, and Yang Tianrong[6] (Chinese: 杨田荣), a famous pingshu performer. At 24, Shan officially went on stage. He performed not only traditional pingshu, but new works as well.

Ten years during the Cultural Revolution[edit]

During the Cultural Revolution, Shan was persecuted for some comments he had made, and once he even got his teeth kicked by rebels.[7]

Return to the stage[edit]

After the Cultural Revolution ended, Shan was able of returning to the stage to perform pingshu. He started from the Anshan Radio Broadcast Station. Gradually, he was received by the pingshu fans across the country and became one of the best experts in storytelling.

Later life[edit]

After his retirement, Shan continued to develop his pingshu career and established Beijing Shan Tianfang Culture and Art Dissemination Co., Ltd., of which he was the chairman of the board.[8][9]

Brief introduction to his works[edit]

  • Lin Zexu (林则徐), an 80-episode flash pingshu, tells the story of Lin Zexu, who, during the reign of the Daoguang Emperor in the Qing dynasty, launched an opium suppression campaign as an imperial commissioner in Guangzhou, and of what happened after his dismissal.
  • The White-Eyebrow Hero (白眉大侠), a sequel to the classical story The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants and its sequel The Five Younger Gallants, set in the Northern Song dynasty, tells the story of a group of heroes who fight for righteousness under the leadership of Xu Liang (a.k.a. the White_Eyebrow Hero). They seek to remove oppressors and battle injustice. The story was later made into a TV series under the same title.[10]

Tianfang's other works include The Romance of Sui and Tang Dynasty, Xue Jia Jiang (literally Generals of the Xue Family),[11] Three Heroes and Three Swordsmen, Heroes in a Troubled Time[12] (The Legend of Zhang Zuolin[13][14] and Zhang Xueliang[15][16] ), Xue Gang Rebels Against the Tang Dynasty, Sanxia Wuyi (literally The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants, Wuxia) and The Biography of Tong Lin.[17]


"Where there is a radio, there is Shan's storytelling."[18] Throughout the art career, he had a collection of over 100 works, which have been broadcast on 500 radio and TV stations and have influenced several generations in China. Tianfang had stellar reputation and a unique voice and thus is oft imitated.


Shan Tianfang originated from a family of quyi. His grandfather, Wang Fuyi (Chinese: 王福义), was one of the earliest old artists who, performing bamboo clapper tale, went to Shenyang during the period of Chuang Guandong (literally "crashing into Guandong"). His mother, Wang Xianggui (Chinese: 王香桂), whose stage name was Bai Yatou (literally "the pale girl"), was a famous performer of Xihe Dagu in the 1930s and 1940s. His father, Shan Yongkui (Chinese:单永魁), was an artist of string instrument. His oldest uncle Shan Yongsheng (Chinese:单永生) and third younger uncle Shan Yonghuai (Chinese:单永槐) were respectively Xihe Dagu. performers and storytellers. His widow, Wang Quangui (Chinese:王全桂), is eight years older than he was.


  1. ^ 著名评书艺术家单田芳11日下午病逝 享年84岁 (in Chinese). 11 September 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Chinese Lunar Calendar". Archived from the original on 2012-11-12. Cnina Culture中国文化网
  3. ^ "Chinese Ballad Singers Association (中国曲艺家协会)". Archived from the original on 2005-12-28.
  4. ^ "Zhao Yufeng(Chinese赵玉峰)".天津文化信息网——文化艺术志 (第十四篇:人物)
  5. ^ "Xihe Dagu (Chinese:西河大鼓)". Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Confucius Institute Online网络孔子学院
  6. ^ "Yang Tianrong (Chinese:杨田荣)".中华相声
  7. ^ Zhang Jihe (张继合) (2006). "Chapter Eight (第八回 高墙戴罪炼生死 炮师喋血泣鬼神)". The Biography of Shan Tianfang (且听下回分解:单田芳传) (in Chinese). Shanghai (上海): 上海人民出版社. p. 73. ISBN 7-208-05975-6. 一名"造反派"不容分说, 迎面就是一脚, 不偏不斜, 正踢到嘴巴上。顿时, 单田芳两眼发黑, 头脑轰鸣, 他下意识一摸, 突出的牙齿全被打落了。不敢声张, 更不敢吵闹, 他含着满口鲜腥、炽热的脓血, 愣是挺过来了
  8. ^ "《言归正传——单田芳说单田芳》". 网易读书 连载书库
  9. ^ Shan Tianfang (单田芳) (2011). The Autobiography of Shan Tianfang言归正传:单田芳说单田芳 (in Chinese). Beijing: 中国工人出版社. p. 361. ISBN 978-7-5008-4877-6.
  10. ^ "The White-Eyebrow Hero (白眉大侠)".
  11. ^ Shan Tianfang (单田芳) (1999). 薛家将 (in Chinese). Beijing: 群众出版社. p. 442. ISBN 7-5014-1736-9.
  12. ^ "Heroes in a Troubled Time (乱世枭雄)". Archived from the original on 2012-05-04. CNR中国广播电台
  13. ^ "Zhang Zuolin". Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  14. ^ "Zhang Zuolin - Warlord of Manchuria". Cultrual China
  15. ^ "Zhang Xueliang". Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  16. ^ "Zhang Xueliang - Hero of History". Cultural-China
  17. ^ Shan Tianfang (单田芳) (1999). The Biography of Tong Lin (童林传) (in Chinese). Beijing: 群众出版社. p. 2448. ISBN 7-5014-1785-7.
  18. ^ "Comments of famous people". Archived from the original on 2011-10-25.

External links[edit]