Nanjing folk culture is colorful, blending with the characteristics of the north and the south. Among them, the local folk dances are especially unique, such as the Sparrow-Jumping (Fangshan Big Drum), the Jiangpu Lion Dance, the Liuhe Dragon Dance on Stilts, and the Gaochun Wuchang Dance, and so on.
Sparrow-Jumping (Fangshan Big Drum)
Legend has it that, the Sparrow-Jumping was a dance created by the peasant according to the mood in which sparrows were happily pecking at the rice in the paddy fields, hence the name. This kind of folk dance was originally popular in Fangshan in Jiangning District of Nanjing, so it is also called Fangshan Big Drum. The folk dance of Sparrow-Jumping reached its heyday during the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom period. The performers dance while playing 10 drums and gongs. Their festive dance reflects their good wishes for better food and clothes. The drumbeat is fast and simple and their movements are extremely vigorous. The dance in the Village of the Tao Family is the most typical.
Jiangpu Lion Dance
Pukou District, which is located in the northwest of Nanjing, is the hometown of the Jiangpu Lion Dance. Originated during the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom period, this dance was for the Taiping soldiers who were stationed in Yongning Town in Pukou District to improve the health and to share happiness with people. After the failure of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, this dance was preserved for holiday celebrations and entertainment. The Jiangpu Lion Dance consists of a lion which is made of bamboo and wrapped in linen and colored thread. The handle is a wooden or bamboo stick that supports the chest and the lower abdomen of the lion. This dance can be performed by one person only or by many people.
Liuhe Lantern Dance on Stilts
The Liuhe Lantern Dance on Stilts, a form of traditional folk art, originates in Liuhe District. As early as the 1950s, a Folk Stilt Art Troupe was established in Liuhe. The traditional Lantern Dance on Stilts has won widespread praise because of its novelty, peculiarity and uniqueness. During the Spring Festival in 1997, the Dragon Dance on Stilts which combines stilt-walking and dragon dance was praised as a unique Chinese performance by CCTV.
Gaochun Wuchang Dance
With a long history, the Wuchang Dance refers to the folk dance performed to worship the gods during the Western Zhou Dynasty. Wuchang, also called Five Gods, represents wood, fire, earth, metal and water respectively in Wu Xing or the Five Elements. Accompanied by letting off firecrackers, the Wuchang Dance is to pray for the happiness of villagers and the peace of the village by worshipping those gods. During the performance, the villagers in ancient costume will carry a basket, flags, beat gongs or drums according to their roles. The scenes are very spectacular.