Have you ever seen the Chinese hit variety show “Where Are We Going, Dad? Or have you seen the Chinese TV series “Story of Yanxi Palace” aired this summer vocation. In this two TV programs, you can enjoy a stunning sprays of melted iron show. So what is sparys of melted iron? How this miraculous “metal fireworks” was made?
What is Datiehua?
“Datiehua” is a kind of folk art to celebrate Spring Festival and scare away demons in Henan and Shanxi province. With iron melting in pots reaching temperatures of up to 1,700 degrees Celsius, the performers use planks to spray molten iron and wood dust into the sky, creating a spectacular array of fiery sparks. It originated in the early Song Dynasty, and now a national intangible cultural heritage, which is at the danger of disappearing.
Dated back some 2,000 years ago, the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, Datiehua had closely related to the prosperous and flourishing development of mining and iron making industry. Rich coal and iron ore resources also provide extremely convenience for the development of the smelting industry. However, it is until in the Ming and Qing Dynasties that this kind of traditional folk art became flouring.
Two famous areas of origin
- Queshan datiehua
Known as the “Most of the Folk Fireworks”, “The Cultural Miracle in Central China ” and “The First Datiehua of China”, it was originally from the Northern Song Dynasty. This millennium stunt originally originated from the Lao Leshan Taoist culture. It was an activity held by folk artisans and Lao Leshan Taoists to worship the Taoist ancestor Taishang Laojun. After a thousand years of rituals, not only firecrackers and fireworks were added, but also the dragon lanterns, bronzes, and fires were integrated into the scene, forming a unique performance style with grand scenes, grandeur, and auspiciousness. “LongChuanHua”, a best occasion to show the lineup, will and skill of each Dragon Lantern, is played when the melted iron was dusted into the sky, then the nearby dragon lanterns will organize the dragon light to come and help, and shuttle under the iron flower splashing flower shed, In 2008, “Queshan Datiehua” was selected as the second batch of national intangible cultural heritage protection projects, which is also the only national-level non-legacy protection project for Datiehua.
- Zezhou Datiehua
Zezhou Datiehua is a traditional folk performance art in Jincheng, Shanxi. Named after the ancient city of Jincheng called Zezhou and Zezhou Prefecture.
To make Datiehua, you need to set up a melting pot of molten iron, pour it into the coal, blow it with a blower, and burn it with a red fire. The master of the iron flower smashed the metal juice with a wire rope, and took up the board. With a hard hit, it stirred up the iron and the sky, and Mars was shining.
In the Jincheng city of Shanxi, there is a famous iron-flower custom in Dayang Town and Bagong Town. Since April 18th, 2011, Zezhou Datiehua has been selected, “the third batch of provincial intangible cultural heritage list recommended items.” In 2012, this custom was selected into the third batch of provincial intangible cultural heritage.
With the fast development of technology, more and more traditional folk arts are disappearing. Fortunately, there’s a great push now to revive traditional folk arts and bring them into the 21st century. I hope that all of you are interested in these Chinese traditional folk arts, and I’m glad to share them with all of you.