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Dongba Dance—with strong primitive flavor and rigorous movement norms

Dongba dance is a kind of religious dance performed during religious rites performance, which is done by rules in ashram depending on rules of Taoism rites.
Deriving from social life filled with Naxi people’s words, Dongba dance, many movements of which are performed by simulating movements of all kinds of animals, is a sight of vividness.
Dongba dance is a significant part of Dongba culture. In Dongba classics, there are two books,Dance-teaching Materials and Dance Source specializing in describing Dongba Dance notation, both of which are termed as “Cuomu (蹉姆)” referring to norms or mode of dance. The detail about dance with 60 persons is recorded in them.
Dongba Dance which describes the origin, category, steps, gestures, movements, functions and so on of dance in detail, is the only ancient dance notation written by pictograph in the world. And Dongba Dance is a precious classic to research the origin of human’s primitive dance and the formation of early dance notation.
Dongba dance shall be performed in seven of the eight ashrams for Dongba fete, excluding the ashram for worshiping Heaven.
When ancient Naxi people performed fete activity, Dongba flamen, in order to call back the spirit of patients, simulated movements of some tamed animals—carrying colorful feathers and whitish-grey baskets, and dancing before the God images to pray, with the colorful feathers and the whitish-grey baskets flying in the air. For ancestors at that time, they thought, via the flattering dance provided for Shu God (the natural God, is a bad and cruel God) who would also be beyond excited and laugh happily after being stimulated by dance. Hence, they were to please Shu God to make Shu God feel grateful for fetes made by human, and thus people would be blessed by Gods.
There is a kind of dance for expelling Shu God, except dance expressing worship to Shu Gods in Dongba dance. While performing the dance for frightening and expelling Shu God in altar, Dongba flamen wore cap made from fur of eagle to dance, and carried the feather of eagle carried, to simulate the movements of eagle.
In the story Fight between Roc and Shu God of Naxi nationality, eagle, which is a kind of spirit who can subdue Shu God and save people from plight, is the guardian angel for Naxi ancestors and a true image worshiped by them.
While presenting the dance for pleasing and driving Gods, Dongba Dance also maintained the tradition pattern in the folk—dancing with songs chanted. The majority of Dongba dance is robust and tender, lucid and free, varied and flexible, which remains the characteristic of pureness and kindness as well as elegance and fineness.
Dongba dance’s style and characteristic formed by its strong original flavor and rigorous movement norm is the most special one among dances in Lijiang, which is also specific in dance cultures of minorities inside and outside Yunnan.
Being the significant part of traditional dances of Naxi nationality, Dongba dance can be divided into five classes according to contents and forms, i.e. God Dance, Birds and Beasts Dance, Utensils Dance, War Dance, and Feet-kicking Dance. It is a kind of dance to reflect the primitive life of Naxi people—they migrated following livestock activities, as birds and beasts being their neighbors, which is a reflex of Naxi Nationality’s spiritual culture.
Dongban dance of Naxi nationality, includes various dances to simulate animals like eagle, roc, pavane, lophura nycthemera, elephant, green dragon, white horse, yak, black dzo with white forehead, red tiger with big feet, flying dragon, wapiti, porcupine, hedgehog, goat, golden goliath frog and so on, as well as musical instruments dances, like eagle wing dance, eagle claw dance, anti-devil dance, lantern dance, lotus dance, torch dance and etc.
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