Jin Opera is one of the four Bangzi operas in Shanxi Province. Bangzi opera is a group of operas generally distinguished by their use of wooden clappers for rhythm and by a more energetic singing style.
"Jin" is the shortened form for "Shanxi." Because it originated in the central area of Shanxi, it is also called Zhonglu (literally Central) Bangzi, now popular in the central and northern areas of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Hebei provinces.
Jin Opera was formed in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and then spread to the surrounding areas as well as parts of Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Hebei. It was popularized during the late Qing Dynasty with the help of the then-ubiquitous Shanxi merchants who were active across parts of China.
Jin Opera has more than 200 popular plays. The accompanying orchestra is traditionally made up of 9 people in two groups -- one plays the huhu (a stringed instrument), a two-string instrument, a Chinese trichord and a four-string instrument, the other plays clappers, cymbals, small gongs, ma gongs, and bangzi.
As the representative opera of Shanxi, Jin Opera is valuable for research on local operas, music, folk customs, and history of Shanxi.