Transnational Geek

Author M. H. Boroson shares his geeky passions: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, spirit magic kung fu movies, the ethics of cultural appropriation, Chinese American literature and history, The Dresden Files, Daoist magic, strong female characters, Asian monsters, spirit world depictions, traditional Chinese foods, race, class, gender, and culture.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chinese New Year, a Time for... Exorcism?

Today people are celebrating the end of a year and the start of another.  With fireworks they scare away the monster called Nian (year).  They eat mooncakes and perform lion dances, and in one part of China, it's time for an exorcism.

This exorcism takes the form of an opera.

In the region called Gui Zhou (贵州), people put on masks; they dance and perform a ritual to banish devils, illness, and poor luck.

The ritual is called Nuo Xi (儺戲).  It is performed in various regions at various times of year; now, at Gui Zhou, the performance takes place with the accompaniment of a single gong and a single drum.  It is performed upon a single tract of land.

Nuo masks are fascinating and famous.  Some are designed simply to scare away the devils, but others represent characters out of religious literature, like Sun Wukong (Monkey).  The perfomances can last ten or twelve days, and often incorporate stories from classical Chinese texts, like The Three Kingdoms and Journey to the West.

Some more photos of the Gui Zhou Nuo Xi:

And finally, a video:

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