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Shaman Dance


Shaman Danceis performed by shaman (sorcerers or witches) in praying to gods, sacrificing, dispelling evils and curing diseases. It is calledTiaodashenby common people. The kind of dance was popular among northern Chinese tribes, a result of primitive hunting, fishing and totem worshipping activities. From the clothes, musical instruments and dance movements of shaman today, one can find relics of primitive culture. For example, shaman of Oroqin and Ewenki people always decorate their clothes with beast bones or teeth; their musical instrumentZhuagu(a drum that can be held in hand) is covered with beast skin and their performances imitate images of bear, hawk and deer.

In the past, to meet the demand of a hunting life, nomadic tribes lived dispersedly in yurts. Except for large carnivals (such as theNadam Fairin Mongolia today), all dances are done within the yurt. Therefore, their dances are usually in a small scale. The dance style is straightforward and bold, with few steps. But the arm actions are powerful, and the wrist, shoulder and waist move briskly. In the dance, there are images and actions of hawks, swan and horse riding, and the"Shaman Dance"originating from religious beliefs is the most common type.

The Manchu people call the Shaman DanceTiaojiashen(inviting gods of the house) orShaoqixiang(the bannermen invite the gods). The shaman ties a long bell to his or her waist in performance and holds a drum. Gods in charge of different sectors of people's lives are invited at the sound of drums and the bells. After each god arrives, the shaman will imitate the movements of the god. For instance, if he has invited the God of Hawk, he will imitate flying and pecking at the food on the table; if he has invited the God of Tiger, he will have to jump, scratch, spring and communicate with people on the spot; or he should play with burned incense in magical darkness, showing that the God of Golden Flower has arrived.

The Mongolian ethnic group calls Shaman DanceBoorBo Dance. In the past, shaman always wore a cap with a hawk-shaped ornament, a skirt with ribbons and nine bronze mirrors in his waist to show his power. The musical instrument was one-sided drums. One shaman was a major performer, the other one or two beat drums as accompaniment. The dance movements were imitation of birds, beasts or all kinds of spirits. The highly skillful one could turn round and round continuously with a multi-sided drum in hand. Such performances remain today, but dancers no longer spin that well.

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