Diqing Tibetan Guozhuang dance
  ·  2023-12-26  ·   Source: China Today


Tourists participating in the traditional Tibetan Guozhuang dance with local Tibetans at the square of Dokezong Ancient City in Shangri-La of Diqing in Yunnan province 

Guozhuang Dance is one of the three major folk dances practiced by the Tibetan people. "Guozhuang Dance" means "singing and dancing in a circle " in the Tibetan language and is mainly popular in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province in southwestern China. It has a history of more than 1,000 years, as evidenced by ancient dancing images on a Tang Dynasty Tibetan-language tablet discovered in Shigujiaozi Village of Lijiang in Yunnan Province. This age-old dancing style was included in the national intangible cultural heritage list in 2006. 

This dancing style consists of "major Guozhuang" for large-scale religious ceremonies, "medium Guozhuang" for traditional folk festivals and "minor Guozhuang" for gatherings of friends and relatives. During the dance, men and women line up in a semicircle respectively and hold hands to form a circle. One person is in charge of directing the process to guide one man and one woman asking and answering questions in turn through singing without musical accompaniment. 

The whole dance is made up of two sections of a slow tempo dance and then a fast tempo dance, with a band of basic dance movements. The footwork in the dance is characterized by a variety of knee-bounces, turns, and squats, while upper body movements feature different postures like lifting, flinging, and waving. The formation moves clockwise in a circle, the size of which changes according to the choreography. 

The ideology of songs, dances, and lyrics related to the Diqing Guozhuang dance is diverse and rich. During such occasions as a festive season, a home-warming celebration, or wedding, people gather together and dance all night to celebrate and pray for blessings. 

Benzilan Town in Deqin County and Zhantang Town, and Xiaozhongxun Town in the Shangri-La City are considered to have preserved the most authentic forms of Diqing Tibetan Guozhuang. However, there are differences between these two forms of Guozhuang. The one in Benzilan places emphasis on rituals and procedures, and includes specific dances themed on giving blessings, compliments, gathering, departing, inviting visitors to stay, farewells, and offering prayers. Shangri-La Guozhuang has now evolved into two types: the ancient dance and the modern dance. The former has set movements and lyrics and exhibits a strong ritual nature, which is favored by the religious community and the elderly; the latter contains different topics to reflect a modern life. 

In Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, this traditional Tibetan dance has been passed down from generation to generation. It contains rich Tibetan cultural connotations, boasts a strong ethnic style, and embodies the traditional humanistic spirit of friendship and unity.  

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