Yuhang Gundeng 余杭滚灯

Time: 2006
Category: Folk Dance
Region: Zhejiang Province
Ref. No.: III-16
Nominating unit[s]: Yuhang District, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province
With more than 800 years of history, Yuhang Gundeng, originated in Yuhang and Wengmei areas of Zhejiang Province, is a form of competitive folk dance performed during holidays, celebrations, and lantern festivals in ancient times. Fan Chengda, a poet of the Southern Song Dynasty, in the poem titled The Record of The Scenery during The Lantern Festival in Wuzhong Rhyming 32 Times in Humorous Genre (or Shang Yuan Ji Wu Zhong Jie Wu Pai Xie Ti San Shi Er Yun) described the scene of flying Gundeng:
"Flying candles rise high into the air steadily,
Balls, after pushed, roll on the ground slightly.
Thus, it can be seen that Gundeng was already popular in the Southern Song Dynasty.
Yuhang, located at the outskirts of Hangzhou City, was near the capital of Southern Song Dynasty. There were many temple fairs there. It was an indispensable feature show at the opening ceremony of a festival or procession in old days. Because of this gundeng was very popular. Moreover, Yuhang and Wengmei areas are close to the north bank of the Qiantang River wher in ancient times salt industry was prosperous and invasion of pirates was rampant. For the hundreds of years since then, rolling lights were regarded as the auspicious symbol and the tool for body strengthening by Yuhang people, and gundeng performance became the indispensable whenever the Lantern Festival was celebrated and temple fair (mainly the Yuanshuai temple fair) was held.
By integrating dance, skills and sports activities, Yuhang gundeng has distinctive features as diversity, comprehensiveness and competitiveness. By virtue of 27 (9 systems) performance actions, unique artistic conception and typical regional characteristics, it demonstrates the outstanding creativity of Chinese folk dance and is of great value for the study of the ancient folk dance.
The modernization drive advances, and artistic forms are diversified, with the result that most traditional temple fairs have disappeared and gundeng performances have been held on increasingly less occasions. It is faced with extinction. In addition, there are few artisans alive who are qualified to pass on this art to next generation. To this end, it is urgent to rescue and protect Yuhang gundeng.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *