Fire dragon dance
The fire dragon dance is a folk dance that has been passed on for generations in Baiyun district of Guangzhou. Local people perform this dance during Mid-Autumn Festival, believing it can bring happiness, expel evil spirits and prevent disasters.
Every year before Mid-Autumn Festival, Baiyun villagers make a long dragon with bamboo strips, banyan trees and vines.
The dragon is then carried to the ancestral hall on the night of the festival and decorated by burning joss sticks.
A grand fire dragon dance ceremony is held afterwards. Following the ceremony, the dragon starts its dance with fast-paced drum beats.
Accompanied by the sound of gongs and firecrackers, performers jump upward and forward powerfully, wiggling the dragon head and swinging the tail as they parade across the streets. Villagers worship the fire dragon and pray for a great harvest, safety and good fortune.
Fire dragon dance [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
The fire dragon dance has a long history in Baiyun district. This unique activity can be traced back to the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
It is said that in order to get rid of the ruling officials’ corruption and excessive exploitation, ancient Baiyun villagers used a fire dragon as a signal for their uprising on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival to drive away Yuan soldiers.
Since then, local people perform the dance every year to commemorate their victory and pass the custom down from generation to generation.
Another story says that this custom originated from the autumn of the tenth year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860) in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In order to expel locusts that destroyed local seedlings, villagers from Junhe sub-district of Baiyun district performed the dance in the crop fields on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival and successfully expelled pests and kept their crops.
As a unique folk custom in Baiyun district, the fire dragon dance has been included in the list of representative projects of provincial intangible cultural heritage in Guangdong province.