China’s National Treasures Dance on Music Video App Douyin


For International Museum Day last week, video entitled “The 1st Relics Drama Queen/King Conference” — produced on ByteDance-owned music video sharing app Douyin (aka Tik Tok) — went viral. Created under the theme of “Hyper-connected museums: New approaches, new publics,” the video featured a diverse cast of historical relics that many Chinese people are used to seeing from history books, dancing on screen along to a mix of killer beats.

The video was the result of a collaboration between Douyin and the National Museum of China, along with six provincial museums. In one segment, a group of Tang Dynasty ceramics announce that they’ve been “Drama Queens” (戏精; xi jing) for a thousand years.

I bet you’ve never seen Terracotta Warriors dancing together:

A pottery figurine from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 CE) is seen doing the “Dang Dang dance,” while a bronze vessel with a monster-like face from the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 BCE) is doing the “98k electronic eye,” both of which are hit dance challenges on Douyin.

At the time of writing, the official Douyin account of the National Museum of China has attracted almost 450,000 followers. Its bio reads, “Surprised I’m here, huh?” and says that it’s 105 years old and a Cancer.

Here’s one of their first videos. Feel the vibe:


According to financial paper 21st Century Economics, the video got banned automatically by the Tencent-owned social platform WeChat, due to “inducing sharing” — that is, artificially inflating its number of shares — at noon on National Museum Day (May 18), even though the video had been viewed over 2 million times since it was released the previous evening. Perhaps this is the latest salvo in the battle between Tencent, currently king of the Chinese internet castle, and ByteDance, one of the few newcomers with a real shot at the throne.

[UPDATE, May 23, 2018: Seems this is what’s going on — Tencent recently took down (link in Chinese) all of the National Museum’s Douiyin videos on its platforms, including WeChat.]

Cover image: Dahebao.cn

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Fan Shuhong
    Shuhong (aka Rita) is a language instructor, English/Chinese translator, writer, and proud bunny owner based in Beijing. She's previously worked in Washington D.C. and IUP at Tsinghua University. She loves Chinese language, Japanese arts, post-rock music and good English TV series. Instagram: rita_van
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