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In the 19th century, the people of Tai Hang began performing a dragon dance to stop a run of bad luck afflicting their village. More than a century later, their village has been all but swallowed up by Hong Kong’s fast-growing city. But the dragon keeps on dancing. It has even danced its way onto China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage. All this started a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, sometime around 100 years ago.
First a typhoon slammed into the fishing and farming community of Tai Hang. This was followed by a plague, and then when a python ate the villagers’ livestock, they said enough was enough. It takes about 300 performers and over 24,000 incense sticks per night to put on a three-day performance with a 67-metre dragon, which consists of 32 sections and whose head alone weighs 48 kg. Click on the picture below to learn more about the design of the fire dragon! Tai Hang may no longer be a village, but its locals still recreate the fiery ancient ritual to this day with a whopping dragon that is not to be taken lightly!
On the day before the Mid-Autumn Festival, dragon dance participants perform a series of rituals in the Hakka dialect at Lin Fa Temple, a Declared Monument known for its unique East-meets-West style architectural features. Tai Hang: MTR Tin Hau Station, Exit A1. Cross King’s Road and turn right. Walk straight to the second junction on the left to enter Tung Lo Wan Road, which leads to the Tai Hang area. MTR Tin Hau Station Exit A2, turn left at exit and enter the park from Hing Fat Street. Dragon Dance Resource Pack is a smooth, clean, happy RPG. And no, that’s not an oxymoron.
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The character Nian more usually means «year» or «new year». The earliest written sources that refer to the Nian as a creature date to early 20th century. As a result, it is unclear whether the Nian creature is an authentic part of traditional folk mythology, or a part of a local oral tradition which was recorded in the early 20th century. Once every year at the beginning of Chinese New Year, it comes out of hiding to feed, but during winter since food is sparse he would go to the village.
He would eat the crops and sometimes the villagers, mostly children. Weaknesses of the Nian are purported to be a sensitivity to loud noises, fire, and a fear of the color red. The tradition has its origins in a story of a Nian’s attack on a village. After the attack, the villagers discussed how to make the Nian leave them in peace. Various aspects of cultural practices relating to Chinese New Year is now included as part of the Nian legend. Zhou dynasty, replacing the different terms used in previous eras. The practice of sweeping and cleaning at the start of the year is recorded in Zhou dynasty sources as intended to ward off plague spirits, and the practice of using music and drama to receive gods and ward off plague spirits is also recorded from the same era.