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Harvest Ceremony

The Gaoshan people has a population of 400,000, most of which live in the central mountain areas as well as the Zonggu Plain and Lanyu Island east of Taiwan. They speak Gaoshan language but write in Chinese since their language has no written forms.

Gaoshan people practice primitive religion, believing in animatism and worshiping heaven, nature and spiritual beings. Their traditional festivals are all religious and basically take the form of offering sacrifices. The Harvest Ceremony is celebrated by all Gaoshan people and is the most important one.

The annual Harvest Ceremony of the Gaoshan people is equivalent to the Spring Festival of the Han people. It falls in the harvest season, usually on the fifth day of the eighth lunar month. Everyone, old and young, put on their festival best: women wear flowers, brooch, earrings and bracelets: men wear feather hats and tie bronze bells to their waist belts. Those younger prefer smalls bells fastened around their ankles. People eat meat, drink wine, sing and dance, totally immersed in the happiness of the festival.

Dancing and singing is a vital criterion for young people to pick up their mates. When a girl falls in a boy, she would go up to dance with him, and let the expressive steps do the speaking. If a boy is adept at farming, singing and dancing, he would find more than two girls surrounding him. The mass dance is called “Hand-in-Hand Dance”.

The time-honored and widely popular Dance has been entertaining the Gaoshan people for over one thousand years, as a daily recreation or as a special treat on occasions. It features a combination of singing and dancing without instrumental accompaniment. Led by a talented singer, the participants sing and dance in one or several circles. The lyrics always pay homage to ancestors or legendary heroes. It is spectacular scene when hundreds or even thousands of people are singing aloud and dancing in uniform steps.

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