Ping Tan is an ancient performing art of storytelling and ballad singing in Suzhou dialect, being the general name for Pinghua and Tanci. Pinghua, also called Dashu, is performed by a single narrator with a gavel and a fan, relating a historical romance, court case, martial arts story or heroic epic. The Tanci, which is also called Xiaoshu, is mainly put on by two people, regarding the stories of daily life and love.
The instruments used include the Sanxian and lute. This art originally appeared in the Qing Dynasty and was favored by successive monarchs and locals. Its distinctive performing skill consists of storytelling, loud laughter, music-playing and singing. The well-known stories are Love of Weal and Woe, Yang Naiwu and Xiao Baicai, Meng Lijun, Qin Xiangliang, Wusong and Lin Chong.