Subscribe to free Email Newsletter

  Library>Culture ABC>Dance>Introduction
Relationship of Sorcery and Dance


The Chinese characters of sorcery and dance have the same pronunciation of Wu. Based on primitive beliefs,Wu(sorcerer) had a close relation with dance from its birth.

Guo Moruo, a famous Chinese scholar, made a conclusion fromJiaguwen(inscriptions on tortoise shells and animal bones) that the twoWuare the same originally.Shuowen Jiezi(Elucidations of the Signs and Explications of the Graphs), an etymological dictionary by Xu Shen of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), said that the original shape of the characterWu(dance) was an imitation of a person dancing with two long sleeves. Thus the character means a person who could communicate between gods and men through dancing. That's whyWu(sorcerer) andWu(dance) were always connected.

In the past, dance was an important means of fete, because dance could have cause visual convulsion, were pleasing to the eyes, and could play the functions that other means could not have.

In ancient times, the clan leaders acted as sorcerers part-time. For instance, the Great Yu was not only a hero good at taming flood, but also a great sorcerer. Due to diseases in legs resulted by hardship of taming flood, the Great Yu could not walk at a stride but quick short steps. This kind of steps were called as Yu Steps by the later generations, and were widely applied in Taoists' conjuring and sorcerers praying to gods for blessing.

Sacrificial activities were practiced and sorcery dance existed in almost all dynasties in China. For instance, in the song and dance dramaNine Songsof the Chu Kingdom, a sorcerer played the role of a god in colorful clothes and adorned with beautiful jade, dancing with a long sword in hands.

Due to high difficulty and techniques of sorcery dance, ordinary people cannot perform it. In addition, sorcery dancers should be not only good at dancing, but also have good looks to lure and captivate others. Because sorcery and dance have the same pronunciation of Wu in Chinese, the major means used in China to pray to gods for blessing was dancing.  

Email to Friends