Tujia nationality baishou dance 土家族摆手舞

Time: 2006
Category: Folk dance
Region: Hunan province
Ref. No.: Ⅲ-17
Nominating unit[s]: Xiangxi Tujia-Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan province
The Tujia nationality baishou dance in Xiangxi, Hunan province best reflects the ethnic flavor and ancient customs of the Tujia nationality. It is popular in Longshan county, Baojing county and Yongshun county, Xiangxi Tujia-Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan province. The dance is usually performed from the third to the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. It originates from an ancestor worship ceremony and dates back nearly 1,000 years ago, according to the broken stele in the Temple of Eight Clan Leaders (Qing Dynasty) and the county annals.
The Tujia nationality baishou dance integrates singing, dancing, music and opera elements. It presents numerous topics concerning history and human existence, including the creation of the world, human reproduction, migration, hunting & fishing, sericulture & weaving, slash-and-burn cultivation, ancient stories, myths and legends, and daily life. The dance uses ritual gestures. Dancers’ movements and postures are powerful and aesthetic. They wave one hand, wave two hands, wave hand(s) when circling around, or wave hand(s) with foot movements. The dance, usually performed on level ground, can be classified into grand baishou and small-scale baishou. The grand baishou is performed by over 1,000 dancers when offering sacrifices to Tujia ancestors and is watched by over 10,000 spectators; the small-scale baishou is performed on a small scale when offering sacrifices to ancestors with the same family name.
The music of the dance incorporates vocal accompaniment (starting song and baishou song) and musical accompaniment (drum and gong). The song changes flexibly according to the content and movements of the dance. Dancers’ movements and postures indicate power and freedom and feature turning, bending knees, shaking, and lowering the body.
The dance is valuable for studying the history, war, religion, migration, farming, life, courtship and folk customs of the Tujia nationality. It reflects the bravery and skill in battle of the Tujia people’s ancestors and their fearlessness in the face of death. In addition, the dance also presents the whole process of farming and the daily life of Tujia nationality; and reflects their hardworking nature, strength in the face of adversity, life passion, and optimistic spirit in the struggle for survival. It is an important means to know and study the Tujia culture.
田仁信 张明光 田景仁
Tian Renxin, Zhang Mingguang, and Tian Jingren

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