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Chinese Dragon Dance
Tracing its origins to the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), the traditional dragon dance began as a ceremony for worshiping ancestors and praying for rain. It later became more of an entertainment, often performed during Chinese New Year. In Chinese culture, dragons symbolize wisdom, power, dignity, fertility, and auspiciousness, and have also become a symbol of Chinese culture itself. Odd numbers of the dragon’s joints are regarded as auspicious, so people often make an odd-numbered jointed dragon puppet. Right before the dance, the head and the tail of the dragon are connected to its body. Then, someone holding a rod with a large ball at the top leads the dragon during the dance. As the dragon follows the ball’s movement—left and right, back and forth, up and down, and thus moving in waves—it appears to be dancing. In this video from the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival program “China: Tradition and the Art of Living,” members of the Zhejiang Wu Opera troupe from Jinhua in eastern China performed the dragon dance. Learn more about dragon dance: Learn more about “China: Tradition and the Art of Living”: Editing: Jackson Harvey Camera: David Barnes, Shiyu Wang, Abby Sternberg [Catalog No. CFV11261; © 2019 Smithsonian Institution]
Video Duration:
1 min 37 sec
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