The Ansai waist drum dance is a unique, large-scale folk dance with a history of more than 2,000 years. Like a hurricane sweeping across the yellow earth, the dance displays the unsophisticated and wild character of peasant life on the Loess Plateau, revealing its unique artistic charm.
The drum dance is a traditional lunar New Year and Lantern Festival activity inShaanxi Province. Young people perform the dance throughout their villages while wishing people a happy New Year. Villagers set off firecrackers to welcome the arrival of the dancers and invite them to sample their homemade rice wine.
This type of folk performance is believed to have originated before theSpring and Autumn Period(770-476) as a religious activity to greet gods and dispel evil. In the past, Shaanxi villagers used the drum dance to pray for good weather, a successful harvest and a happy life.
Decayed wooden drums covered with boa skins have been unearthed from theYin ruinsofAnyang City,Henan Province, suggesting that waist drums appeared more than 3,000 years ago. It is believed that waist drums were originally used in ancient times by Chinese soldiers stationed at the border to sound alarms, train troops or accompany cavalry (matching to the rhythm of horse hooves) as the soldiers advanced.
This theory is evidenced by a concentration of waist drums in frontier fortress regions near theGreat Wall, including martial costumes and other dance elements.
Ways of Performing
The Ansai waist drum dance is an extremely impressive spectacle that consists of vigorous dances and leaps accompanied by frenetic drumming. The dancers wear costumes and headdresses similar to those of ancient Chinese soldiers.