Maogusi Dance of the Tujia Minority in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Ethnic Autonomous Prefecture
Photo source: hunan.gov.cn
The Maogusi dance is an ancient dance popular in areas inhabited by the Tu ethnic group in western Hunan Province. "Maogusi" means grandpa in Chinese. The dance originated from the sacrifice rituals of the ancient Tujia people.
The dance often calls for 15-16 participants, the leader of which is an elder, called 'Babu father'. The rest are younger. During performances, all of the dancers wear clothes made of straw, couch grass and leaves, and even their faces are covered. Five plaits made of palm leaves sit on their heads. Four of the plaits extend down four sides of the dancers' body. One plait extends between the dancer's legs and is a symbol of masculinity.
The Maogusi dance is unique in its form and content. The dancers speak and sing songs in local dialects throughout the performance, and their appearances are humorous. They advance and retreat in short, quick steps, or go down on their knees and shake their bodies, jumping and swinging from right to left and quivering all over. They shake their heads and shrug and rustle the couch grass. This is in imitation of the straight forward manners of the ancient people.
Most Maogusi dances are about history, fishing, marriage and the daily work of the Tujia people. Some dances might last six days and nights. The dance is an ancient dance for commemorating the exploits of their ancestors. It shows the story of Tujia ancestors exploring new lands, farming, fishing and hunting.
The Maogusi dance is an integration of singing, dancing and drama. It is a native drama intended for a deity. Seldom seen in other ethnic groups, this primitive dance is called the 'living fossil' of primitive Tujia culture. It provides reliable clues for research on the origins of Tujia dances.
Photo source: hunan.gov.cn;lsnews.net;xxz.gov.cn/