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Kasi Dawen Dance -- Cultural Heritage of Sichuan


The Tibetan people

The Kasi Dawen Dance, also called "Armature Dance," is popular in Upper Heishui and Small Heishui of Heishui County,Sichuan Province.

The dance is a time-honored folk tradition for offering sacrifices to the gods or ancestors. In the past, it was mainly performed during burial ceremonies for martyrs and before a battle to pray for victory and safety for the fighters.

The number of dancers ranged from one or two to more than 10. They danced passionately, blaring out their emotions to achieve a grand performance that vividly captured the heroic, bold and unconstrained character of the people and their history.

The dancers wore a suit of armor, pheasant leathers or a crash helmet on their heads and leather shoes, wielding long swords, pikes or guns in their hands. They first danced in a circle and then formed two lines. During the dance, their weapons collided, the copper bells on their shoulders jingled and the dancers roared loudly, demonstrating the martial mettle of the Qiang and Tibetan people when fighting the enemy for survival of their people.

The procession of the dancers began in the village. Leaving the village, the dancers stood in a circle, dancing, and the village women also joined in with a farewell dance for their loved ones on their way to the battlefield. Their movements were similar to those of the men, and the dance followed the rhythm of slow lyrics with quick dance steps. When the dance was about to conclude, the men scabbard their swords and touched their pikestaffs to the ground; then, both men and women respectively gave out loud, sonorous shouts, portraying a solemn and stirring scenario before the fighters went off to the battle. Every time the dance was performed, people young and old -- aged 15 to 70 -- had to participate.

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