The Spring Festival, traditional Chinese New Year, is fast approaching and if you want to be a part of the Chinese culture, then come to Chun’an County (Qiandao Lake) to experience its abundant folk custom activities …
Luoshen Bamboo Dance
Luoshen Bamboo Dance (Luo Shen Zhu Wu: 罗神竹舞) is a folk cultural art performance with a complete and fresh bamboo as the main prop. The bamboo, for its connection with the famous immortal Luo Yin Xiucai (Xiucai refers to the people who passed the imperial examination at the county level), is known as Luoshen (literally meaning that the Immortal whose surname is Luo) Bamboo, which accounts for the name of the dance, Luoshen Bamboo Dance.
Wangchuan Village was the first to have “Luoshen Bamboo Dance”. Around the year 1750 when the Qing Dynasty was in its heyday, villagers respected bamboos and viewed them as their ancestors. During festivals, villagers would dig up a bamboo along with its roots and place it in the village. They would then pray to the bamboo for pregnancy and prosperity.
Bench Dragon Dance
Hecun Village has the custom of performing Bench Dragon Dance on the fifth day of the first lunar month (Feb. 9, 2019). The Bench Dragon used for Hecun Village Bench Dragon Dance (he cun ban long wu: 河村板龙舞) is made of a bamboo strips and silk cloth-made dragon head, benches equipped with colorful lanterns and a dragon tail.
Normally, one month before the Spring Festival, the villagers in Hechun Village begin to make dragon head and tail out of bamboo strips and silk cloth and every household prepares a long bench equipped with colorful lanterns and with a round hole at each end for connection. On the night of the fifth day of the first lunar month, the performance of Hecun Village Bench Dragon Dance starts. On that night, every household gathers in front of the temple and finishes the formation of the bench dragon. They then tour around the village and perform. Whenever they reach a spacious area, they change the formation of the dragon, scurrying, leaping, writhing or kowtowing, the scene is very spectacular.
Chun’an Bamboo-Horse Dance (chun an zhu ma: 淳安竹马) is a traditional performance with bamboo strips-made horse as the prop and jumping as the main performance feature. It features distinctive regional characteristics and artistic appeal. One single Bamboo-Horse Dance performance may feature up to 108 formations with the least being dozens of formations. When performed, the formation is constantly changing, complex but not disordered, which vividly displays the joyful and lively festive scene.
Chun’an Bamboo-Horse Dance is the accumulation of artistic wisdom of Chun’an people and the way Chun’an people choose to express their emotions. Whenever there are important festivals and sacrificial activities, Chun’an people will retain the custom of performing Bamboo-Horse Dance. In 2014, Chun’an Bamboo-Horse Dance has been inscribed on the list of national intangible cultural heritage masterpieces.
Zhujia Village Pig Heads
Zhujia (the Clan in which people all have the surname, Zhu) Village has observed the custom of “paying respect to ancestors with pig heads (zhu tou ji zu; 猪头祭祖)” for over 600 years and is a significant part of Spring Festival celebrations in the region. Every year in the first lunar month, every household will offer decorated pig heads as sacrifices to ancestors in the clan ancestral temple and to pray for a smooth new year. During the activity, villagers with the largest and the most beautiful pig heads will be rewarded by the clan leader. In the evening, villagers will have “Xi Ding Jiu (Happy Flourishing Population Wine: 喜丁酒)” to pray for a flourishing population in the clan. Starting from the thirteenth day of the first lunar month (Feb. 17, 2019), there will be operas, Bamboo-Horse Dance, Lion Dance, Dragon Dance, juggling and other entertainment activities available in the village and the activity will continue untill the Lantern Festival (Feb. 19, 2019). This custom has become the spiritual support of the clan and has been passed down from generation to generation.
“Pay Respect to Ancestors with Pig Heads” is now a protection unit of Hangzhou municipal intangible cultural heritage and Zhujia Village is one of Spring Festival Culture featured area of Zhejiang Province. In recent years, the influence of the activity has been expanding and has become one of the village culture featured tourism projects in the area. Every year, it attracts tourists from all over the world to come and watch it.