Esplanade Presents | A Tapestry of Sacred Music
Taoist Processional Dances: Guan Jiang Shou – Guards of the Gods & Dance of the Qilin
Fri & Sun
Sun: 7.15pm & 8.30pm
Programme Synopsis – Guan Jiang Shou (官将首) and Ba Jiang Tuan (八将團)
In Taoist mythology, there are guards in the underworld who serve the nether deities. Many of them are depicted in guan jiang shou (senior officers) and ba jiang tuan (eight generals) performances, which are an important feature of traditional folk processions all over Taiwan as they serve to punish evil and reward good.The main characters in guan jiang shou are underworld generals Zeng and Sun, who serve the bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, venerated by Buddhists and Taoists for bringing salvation to beings in the netherworld. It is believed that they can see through the good and bad in people and have different abilities: General Zeng, depicted with a red or blue face, has the power to prolong the life of do-gooders, while General Sun, who has a green face, can shorten the lifespan of evil-doers.
Although the name Ba Jiang Tuan means eight generals, the performance features nine performers, one of whom carries a gourd or sword representing the “Guiding Prince” (引路童子). It is believed that the generals were all demons that were subdued by the City God (城隍爺), eventually becoming his guards, to drive away all the spirits or catch them back for trial. All of them are equipped with different tools of torture. The eight generals are differentiated by the drawings on their faces, some of which have animal designs.
The formation which the Ba Jiang performed are designed from the Taoism elements like Ba Gua(八卦), Wu xin (五行) and Seven Stars (七星) .
About Zhong Lian Dian Folk Arts (中蓮殿官将首八将團)
Zhong Lian Dian is the first Guan Jiang Shou and Ba Jiang troupe in Singapore and the only local group that is recognised in Taiwan. It inherited the Taiwan style of face painting, and has spent the last six years perfecting the art of guang jiang shou with Chinese martial arts.
The troupe has participated in festive celebrations across Singapore and Malaysia, and aims to promote and preserve Chinese traditional arts and culture.
Programme Synopsis – Dance of the Qilin
Dance of the Qilin follows the adventures of the unicorn (more commonly known as the Qilin, a mythological creature from Chinese mythology) that was sent by the legendary mad monk Jigong (济公活佛) to retrieve his magical fan.
According to legend, Jigong had drank too much wine one night and lost his fan. As he was too hungover the next morning, he sent the unicorn to get it. Along the way, it had to scale two mountains and lower a drawbridge.
This elaborate and expressive Hakka dance focuses on the obstacles it encounters on its journey, highlighting the emotions and reactions of the unicorn through acrobatic martial arts movements.
About Yan Wong Cultural Troupe
Yan Wong Cultural Troupe was established in 2014 with an aim to promote traditional cultural dances such as the Cantonese Southern Lion Dance as well as the Hakka Unicorn Dance.
Under the guidance of its grandmasters from Hong Kong and Singapore, the troupe has managed to progressively revive the lost art form of the Hakka Qilin Dance, which is accompanied by the rhythmic beats of traditional Hakka instruments.
The Hakka Unicorn Dance is a common sight during festive or religious occasions in Hong Kong and Guangdong, China, but is a rarity here in Singapore. The dance consists of movements representing different traditions and customs of the Hakka Chinese. Besides the need to have a good martial arts background, each dancer is required to follow a strict set of rules while performing this sacred dance.
Besides performing at local events, the troupe has been also invited overseas, to China, Malaysia and Indonesia. In 2015, it represented Singapore at the 2015 World Hakka Unicorn Convention held in Sabah East Malaysia, organised by the National Sabah Dragon Unicorn & Lion Dance Association.
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