Brief Introduction
Sub Units
Culture Bureaus
Zhejiang Culture & Art
Culture Themes
The "Fish Lantern Dance" of Qingtian was said to evolve from the founding farther of Ming Dyansty Liu Ji drilling his soldiers in battle array with fish lanterns while the "Rattan Shield Dance" of Wenzhou was created by the famous general of Ming Dynasty Qi Jiguang to train the recruits in order to fight against the Japanese pirates. "Ask them to move with the rattan shield and see if they know how to take defense°≠" (Training Diary by Qi Jiguang) The dance belonged to the same category with "Gan Qi" and "Man Pai", but it put more emphasis on the actual effects in the battle. Some country dances, which were believed to have the power to drive away diseases and ghosts, had always been going around in Zhejiang since ancient times. The Jiaxing Prefecture Annal written around 16th and 17th century had the following record: "in the twelve month of the lunar year, the countrymen blacken their face with ink and danced in the streets in ancient ways to drive away the ghosts." The Ninghai County Annal of Yiyin Year in Guangxu's Reign of Qing Dynasty also had records in its customs and practices chapter: in midwinter, people made dumplings with glutinous rice powder as sacrifice to gods and ancestors, and stuffed in them red beans. An old beggar turned himself into the judge of the nether world, pointing his sword towards the sun while dancing and chanting incantations. This ritual was called "Kua Ling Wang" among the folks and could be seen on festivals. Zhu Shu of Qing Dyansty wrote in his book The Miscellaneous of Gu He: "Before Beginning of Spring, people played music and beat drums at Dong Ta (East Pagoda) Temple while a beggar played the role of the Spring God°≠", "almost all the dancing wares were ready from children's adornments, the row boats to straw capes and hoes°≠", "On Lantern Festival, people danced to the sonorous music and drum beats with their dragon lantern, revolving horse lantern or other various lanterns." "At noon on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month°≠people beat gongs and drums, and danced in the role of the blacked faced Zhong Kui (a deity who can drive away evil spirits in Chinese folklore) and the red faced Heavenly Master. Various kinds of folk dances were vivid through the description of the annal. The De Qing folk dance "Cleaning the Silkworm Room" had a long history of more than one hundred years. Every year around the Pure Brightness Festival when every household was cleaning the room for raising silkworms, the folk artists would always dance out their course of production to show that they were ready for a whole year's labor. "Picking Tea Leaves" was originally a song or an opera, which started from the Kuocang Mountains in southern Zhejiang at the turn from Ming Dynasty to Qing Dynasty. The local peasants used to dance it as a kind of self-entertainment to celebrate good harvest in public squares or canopies of temple fairs or bazaars at festivals. The predecessor of "Hundred Leaf Dragon" was the folk dance of Anji "Hua Long Deng (changing dragon lantern)" with a history of more than hundred years and passed down for four generations. It was also a self-entertaining dance when the local people built new houses, held wedding ceremonies and prayed for good luck°≠From Wenzhou Bamboo Branch Ci written by Fang Dinrui in Tongzhi's Reign of Qing Dynasty, one is able to find traces of the folk dances of the time:
         Floats parade along the roads every year to celebrate good harvest,Children on bamboo horse back compete to sing praise of God,Thousands of lanterns bring dazzling brightness,While dragon boats are racing in this crisscross watery region.Witch dancers push their way through the busy, boisterous crowds,With their eyes and ears dyed golden,They whirl as if they truly saw Gods come in,And truly drove away diseases.Squares and streets are decorated with colorful ribbons,Endless lines of candles are ablaze all through the night,Songs and music last well into Spring for three months,Who cares money at this moment? Just go to buy more lanterns.
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