Chinese Ancient Stunts: Single-bamboo-pole Drifting

July 31, 2009
Editor: zhuhong

Single-bamboo-pole drifting is a designated national sport. It entails standing on a floating Moso bamboo pole on the water's surface, and propelling it with a thin stick of bamboo. Adept drifters are able to go back, forward and around on the pole with ease.
This pastime originated in the Wujiang drainage area 100 years ago and later became popular among people of ethnic minorities in northern Guizhou Province in China's southwest. Guizhou's high mountains and deep valleys maintained a constant state of flooding in the Wujiang drainage area which made traveling out of the area difficult. Local inhabitants overcame the problem by chopping down Moso bamboo logs and drifting along on them down the river. Upon reaching the bazaar on the lower reaches of the Wujiang River, they would sell their bamboo conveyance. The practice survives to this day.

Once described as a water ballet, single-bamboo-pole drifting is the entertainment highlight of Fuchunjiang resort in Zhejiang Province. 


Single-bamboo-pole drifting exponents display their skills on the Niuchang River of Yuqing county in Guizhou Province on July 18, when dozens of single-bamboo-pole drifters performed on the water. [xinhua]
Two single-bamboo-pole drifters do the splits on floating bamboo poles in Guizhou Province on July 18. [xinhua]
Three single-bamboo-pole drifting exponents keep their balance while spinning fabric on one finger. [xinhua]
Xiao Yang and Xiao Luo began practicing the art of bamboo drifting 10 or more years ago and are now the star single-bamboo-pole drifters of Fuchunjiang resort. Xiao Yang won the 1998 National Farmers Games silver medal, and she and her team won the bamboo drifting gold medal at the 1999 National Farmers Game. "This sport needs a positive attitude, excellent balance and ample physical strength. Many people give it up because they can't bear the extremes of temperature," Xiao Yang said.

The Moso bamboos that grow along the Chishui River in Guizhou Province are the best for bamboo drifting. One bamboo pole can support as much as 60kg to 75kg. Those in Fuchunjiang resort of Zhejiang are less hardy, and the deep, strong current in the Fuchunjiang River creates a challenge for bamboo drifting performers.  But Xiao Yang and Xiao Luo nonetheless never fail to amaze tourists in Fuchunjiang with their splits, bow-step, rising-pole and pole-hopping drifting specialities.

(Source:, xinhuanet/ Translated by

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