Jumping Cao Gai

Home Culture 2019-06-21

Jumping Cao Gai

Caogai jumping is prevalent in Baima Tibetan area of Pingwu and Nanping counties. It is held on the sixth day of the first month of the lunar calendar every year. Cao Gai is a Baima Tibetan phonetic translation, meaning mask.

Dancing Cao Gai means dancing with masks. In "Dancing Cao Gai", dancers wear different masks and special costumes to dance. In the dance, exaggerated dances are used to show the worship of natural gods, the sacrifice of gods and ghosts, and the dance of exorcising disaster and praying for blessings. With such sacrifices, we pray for gods, drive out ghosts and monsters outside the stockade, and keep people and animals safe and fruitful for one year.

On May 23, 2011, Cao Cao Gai was listed in the third batch of national intangible cultural heritage list by the State Council.

Historical Evolution

According to the investigation and research materials, the custom of Cao Cao Gai jumping of Baima Tibetans is a Nuo ceremony and a primitive form of Nuo culture. Firstly, it has the functions of Nuo sacrifice, Nuo opera dispelling evil Naji, exorcising disaster and praying for blessings. Nuo is a kind of eliminating evil spirits and witchcraft. It is an ancient sacrificial ritual and the product of the ancestors'worship of nature and soul. Its main purpose and function is to drive out ghosts and epidemics and pray for good fortune and disaster. Exorcism is the core of Nuo culture.

The interpretation of Nuo in Shuowen Jiezi is to expel the pestilent ghosts. According to the oracle inscriptions of Yin Ruins, Nuo sacrifices existed as early as the Shang Dynasty. By the Zhou Dynasty, Nuo sacrifice had a new development, which could be divided into two categories: the "priest nuo" held by the palace and the "villagers nuo" held by the people in December every year. Nuo sacrifice, like other witchcraft and rituals, is based on the belief in ghosts and gods. Human belief in ghosts and gods has a very long history. It can be said that it came into being together with human beings when they began to think about all things and their own origins. With the primitive belief in gods, people believe that diseases and misfortunes are caused by ghosts and gods. Therefore, ghosts and gods must be expelled in order to avoid disaster. The way to expel ghosts is to worship the good gods, mediate the good ghosts and expel the evil spirits. In a word, only when there is a belief in gods can there be an act of revering gods and expelling ghosts, and a mask of communicating the relationship between man and gods and ghosts. There are fears of evil spirits, prayers for God, worship of God and avoidance of ghosts, pursuit of ghosts through God and vows to God, and Exorcism of ghosts, as well as Nuo rituals. The folk of Sinan, Guizhou, call Nuo "Chongnuo Return to Vow". The saying of "One Nuo Chong Hundred Ghosts, One Vow to Thousands of Gods" reflects the motive force of folk belief in gods. "Chongnuo" is only an act, and "wishing back" is its real intention. To return the name of "God's wish" is actually for the sake of "people's wish". The so-called "people's wishes" can be summed up as seeking happiness and avoiding disaster, that is, driving out the evil Naji.

There are more than 10,000 Baima Tibetans living in Pingwu County, Nanping County and Wenxian County, Gansu Province. Among them, Baima Township in Pingwu County and Tielou Township in Wenxian County are the largest residential areas. In the 1950s, it was tentatively designated as Tibetan. Subsequently, they have repeatedly reflected that they are not Tibetans and asked for re-identification. From their history, region, language, clothing, customs and beliefs, they are really different from Tibetans in Sichuan or Tibetans in Tibet. In the late 1970s, according to the wishes of Baima people, the Sichuan Provincial People's Committee organized two times experts and scholars to investigate and study Baima Tibetan Area, and held academic seminars. During the discussion, some people believed that the Baima people were descendants of the ancient Di people and belonged to the Di people; others believed that they were "Lachang Qiang" in ancient times and belonged to the Qiang people; others claimed that they were Tibetans or other nationalities. Before its clan was finally identified, it was generally called Baima Tibetan.

Current situation of inheritance

Baima Tibetans have many sacrificial activities, such as killing sheep and worshipping God on the first day of February, praying for God's permission to break the earth and sow seeds; sacrificing ancestors collectively on the fifteenth day of March, praying for their ancestors to bless their children and grandchildren's safety; worshipping the mountain gods on the twenty-fourth day of April, praying for the wind and rain to be smooth; killing cattle to worship God on the fifteenth day of May, praying for the prosperity of six animals; killing animals to worship Baima Tuzu on the fifteenth day of July, feasting and drinking joy Sacrifice to God, reward God for vows, celebrate the harvest... Among the numerous sacrificial activities of the Tibetans in Baima, the Spring Festival is the most solemn. On New Year's Eve, all night long; on the first day of the New Year, the ceremony of honoring the God of fire and making "tribute water" was held; on the third and fourth day of the New Year, the poles were erected to keep the year from falling; on the fifth night, the wizards were invited to recite sutras; on the sixth day, Cao Gai was jumped to expel disaster. From the sacrificial and festival activities of the Baima Tibetans, some of them are obviously influenced by foreign cultures. For example, the "Qingming Festival" of the Han people may come from the "Shiling Festival" on March 15. But it can be said that some of these customs, though dressed in foreign clothes, are inherent to the Baima Tibetans. Cao Gai Dance is the most noticeable folk phenomenon in Baima Tibetan folk activities. It has strong primitive characteristics and national characteristics. It is an unusually ancient sacrificial dance, which has attracted the attention of relevant experts and scholars.

In Baima Township, Pingwu County, the ceremony of jumping Cao Gai is held on the sixth day of the first lunar month every year. On the fifth night of the first five days, people put up a sacrificial shed on the outer dam of the village and set up a bonfire in the middle of the sacrificial shed. Wizards surrounded the fire and chanted sutras. In the early morning of the sixth day, when the East was just white, people dressed in colorful robes and white felt caps with snow-white feathers came to the fire with prepared sacrifices, along with a burst of gunfire, firecrackers, gongs and drums and noisy voices. First, people kill cattle and sacrifice gods under the auspices of wizards. Then, the young and middle-aged dancers of Cao Gai put on huge wooden masks, held knives, saws and other dance tools, and danced rough, simple and vigorous Cao Gai dance around the fire. At least three Cao Gai dancers, no more than three, all wearing masks, jumped violently with the accompaniment of drums and gongs.

For them, "image is infiltrated with the original, and the original is also infiltrated with the image, so to have an image means to a certain extent to ensure the possession of the original one." For the Baima Tibetan Cao Gai jumping, it can be understood as a preview before hunting, or as a celebration after hunting. If it is the former, the purpose is to pray for the protection of the gods and hope for the success of hunting; if it is the latter, it contains the contents of rewarding the gods and ensuring the safety of the future. As for wearing the black bear mask, it obviously contains the connotation of expelling the ghosts of the epidemic. You know: this totemic mask, in the eyes of Baima people, has the function of expelling demons and ghosts. Therefore, "Cao Gai Dance is also a kind of dance used to intimidate ghosts, demons and ghosts." "Because only ferocious terrorists can get rid of ghosts and epidemics." So, Cao Gai masks are always fierce and frightening, and people who jump Cao Gai are all dressed up with long hair, and they are horrible to see, let alone ghosts?

Stylistic features

Clothing Props

Cao Cao Cao Gai has the typical feature of Nuo culture - wearing masks. The origin of masks should be very early. Maybe the original mask was painted with color, wearing animal skins, animal heads and so on. Unfortunately, it is not seen today. Later, copper-cast masks appeared. For example, many copper masks have been unearthed from Sanxingdui Cultural Heritage in Guanghan County, Sichuan Province, and Fang Xiangshi's "Four Golden Museums" recorded in Zhou Li Xia Fang is the same. Later, due to the limitations of the manufacture and use of copper masks, wooden masks, paper masks and cloth masks appeared. As far as the variety of Nuo Opera is concerned, wooden masks are the main ones. The masks were originally intended for hunting, but were later used for exorcising ghosts, epidemics, celebrations, etc. The mask worn by Baima Tibetans when jumping Cao Gai is carved from birch wood produced locally. It is generally about 40 centimeters long and 30 centimeters wide. The top of the mask is 2 to 3 centimeters thick. The face is 1 to 2 centimeters thick. It is large and thick and weighs about 10 kilograms. Their masks are all animals, mainly bearhead masks. The Baima Tibetans are called "Dana corpse". "Na" means "black", "da" means "bear", "corpse" means "god", "Dana corpse" means "black bear".

The white horse Tibetans worship the black bear god, believing that it is the God most feared by the ghosts. Therefore, they make the mask into the image of a bear head, believing that in this way they can drive away the ghosts from the epidemic. These masks are usually carved fiercely and abnormally. They have cracked teeth and make people afraid to see them. Some masks have two snakes coiling on their foreheads, or juxtaposing several heads, or equipped with a pair of horns, or inserting a cowtail, strange and simple. According to the Baima Tibetan people, the more fierce the mask is, the more terrible it is, the better it is. Masks are colorful and varied in decoration. They are either covered with hair, bearded or tied with colorful tie-ups. Various shapes, simple and naive lines. In addition to wearing this ferocious and terrible mask, Cao Gai jumpers wear long woolen clothes and colorful stripes, adding a bit of "animal spirit".

The mask of jumping Cao Gai, usually hanging above the door of the family, exorcises Naji and keeps the family safe, is quite similar to the duty of the door god in the belief of the Han nationality. Not all masked activities fall into the category of Nuo culture, such as today's masquerade. However, the traditional activities that belong to the category of Nuo culture, whether they are Nuo sacrifices, Nuo dances or Nuo operas, are bound to wear masks. The activities of exorcising evil and seeking good fortune by wearing masks, that is, the activities of combining masks with sacrificial rites, must belong to the category of Nuo culture. From this point of view, the Baima Tibetan Cao Gai dance is the legacy of ancient Nuo culture, a primitive Nuo sacrifice activity, or a Nuo dance to exorcise evil Naji. It has its own uniqueness and high academic value compared with all kinds of Nuo operas excavated in other areas so far. From a certain point of view, it is more ancient and primitive than the Nuo opera "Qitaiji" of the Yi nationality in Weining County, Guizhou Province, and has more research value.

Basic movements

Dance is mainly about hand movements. The main content of dance is to imitate the actions of animals such as old bears and strive for ferocity and grotesqueness. When you jump to the climax, you have to fly over the fire. At this time, the drums and gongs are singing in unison, the mood of the crowd is exciting and spectacular. Next, the team of Cao Gai dancers went door to door around the stockade to dance Cao Gai dancers. There were at least three people, all wearing masks. Accompanied by drums and gongs, they jumped violently until they reached the corner of the field. It is said that this is to exorcise ghosts and drive them out of the stockade so as to keep people and animals safe for one year and to have a good harvest.

"Primitive people thought that by imitating animal, other people or natural images, they hoped to gain a kind of power to control them." In dancing, hunting tribes symbolically imitated hunting and killing prey, thinking that by doing so, they could cast a magic on prey. "

Inheritance Significance

The image of gods and ghosts in the minds of Baima Tibetans is the original face of natural objects (animals). The religious beliefs originated from human beings are natural worship, and the gods of belief are animals or mountains in nature. Later, the image of the God was transformed into half man, half beast. Later, the image of gods began to develop in the direction of secularization and humanization, and gradually approached the image of human beings. From many Nuo operas discovered, the images of gods on the masks are mostly close to human figures, or changed figures, which shows that these varieties of Nuo operas are deeply imprinted with the brand of civilized society. From this point of view, the Baima Tibetan custom of jumping Cao Gai is still in a very primitive state. In fact, up to now, the gods worshipped by the Baima Tibetans are mainly mountains, animals, forests and so on, and their images of gods are basically natural objects themselves.

From the analysis of performance content and mask image, it can be seen that "Cao Cao Gai jumping" is still in the stage of pure Nuo sacrifice, while "Qi Taiji" has already taken shape. Nuo opera is "a drama that has evolved or emerged from the activities of Nuo sacrifice". Therefore, it is said that "jumping Cao Gai" is a primitive Nuo culture form more ancient than "Qitaiji". Nuo Festival, Nuo Dance and Nuo Opera are the premature art forms in folk culture. Studying them carefully will play an important role in understanding the occurrence of primitive art, the psychology and beliefs of primitive ancestors. Cao Cao Cao Cao Cao Cao of Baima Tibetans is an ancient ritual of Nuo sacrifice. There are many things to study. It has important academic value in anthropology, ethnology, folklore, artistic genesis and so on.

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