Guozhuang bonfire dance in Tibet

Updated: 2010-07-21 15:15
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The Guozhuang bonfire dance, originating in the Guozhuang village of Qamdo Prefecture in the Tibet autonomous region, is the most famous folk dance of Tibet.

The dance originated in ancient times when a group of travelling merchants set up a bonfire for cooking tea at night. They danced around the bonfire after dinner to drive away the fatigue caused by their daylong excursion.

In modern times the Guozhuang bonfire dance is only performed for festivals, ceremonies and weddings. Male and female dancers stand in a circle hand-in-hand and sing songs without any instrumental accompaniment. The song begins slowly and then gradually speeds up. Men begin the singing and women reply in an antiphonal style. They repeat the chanting until getting into the same happy rhythm.

The bonfire dance was honored as an intangible cultural heritage in 2006 when China issued its first nationally ranked cultural heritage sites.