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Blue Dream -- Intelligence Derived from the Sea

China has a long coastline extending over 18,000 km, with islets spread all around. Residents along the coast are mainly engaged in farming, fishing and sometimes salt industry. The broad and profound sea has brought to people endless mystery. It mixes together with the heaven in the far distance. occasionally, people may find a mirage above the sea, thinking it another living place in the sky Therefore, people tell stories about divine mountains and islets on the sea and the crystal palace, the dragon king and his sons and daughters under the sea. All legends and fairy tales about the sea create blue-colored dreams in the farming tribes on the yellow land.

The sea brings to man not only civilization, resources and wealth, but also unexpected disasters. Once it becomes angry, it stirs up fierce wind and seismic sea waves, swallowing all the things on the bank, which frightens people. To ensure themselves Successful fishing and smooth: sailing and to avoid the attack of typhoon and tsunami, people fancied all kinds of gods and deities, which could help remove disasters and guarantee a good harvest in fishing, salt industry and farming. As a result, people entertain the gods with songs and dances and offer sacrifices to the gods in grand ceremonies. The folk dances in ocean civilization, in fact, philosophically refer to the "harmony between man and sea". This kind of spirit is represented in all kinds of dances and becomes more magical and imaginative.

To ensure the safety of fishermen on the sea, people began to worship a new goddess---"Mazu" in ancient times. It is said that Mazu was a daughter of an official, named Lin. She was born in Putian, Fujian Province in the year 96o. She was very bright in her childhood and started dancing at the age of 11. When she grew up, she often went out to protect and rescue fishermen or businessmen on the sea. During a violent storm, she was taken away by a typhoon, but people said she did not die. Some claimed to have witnessed her transforming into a goddess and flying toward the sky. She still supposedly emerged frequently on the sea to rescue those in danger. Therefore, people built a temple to offer sacrifices to her regularly and do all kinds of folk dances, hoping Mazu could bless and protect them. The deeds of Mazu were spread all over the country. Emperors of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties all granted her titles, from "Madame Lin", "Imperial Concubine", "Goddess of the Sea" and finally to "Imperial Empress". Even the government sent ministers to conduct a sacrifice ceremony to her and record it in the official documents. More and more Mazu Temples were built in coastal towns and thus the dances in sacrifice ceremonies became more and more diversified.

The "Fish Dance", the "Running Horse" and the "Hair Flinging Dance" have their special features. The "Fish Dance" originated in primitive tribes that took the fish as a totem. During the Han Dynasty, perfect dance with fish stage props was found. Images of the fish dancers can been seen in the stone drawing of the Han Dynasty unearthed in Yinan, Shandong Province.

The "Fish Dance" is now popular in Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong Provinces. The fish-shaped stage props have lights in them. When Ferformed at night, people see a group of "fish" swimming happily in rivers or the sea. The indistinct fish at a high or low position seem to bring people to rivers or the sea. People feel great pleasure. In some areas, performance programs include "Spring Fish Mating", "Summer Fish Playing on the Sea", "Autumn Fish Finding Food Under the Sea" and "Winter Fish Congregating in Caves".

The dance of "Running Horse" is prevalent in Rudong, jiangsu Province, performed in sacrifice ceremonies to the "Dutianwangye" they believe in. Dancers made themselves up as a "horse" driven by the God, holding a long slender pointed pole as a hitching post and putting up horse bells on his body. During process, they stomped their feet and the horse bells clattered. With a pious mind, they asked for God's blessings. At each birthday of "Dutianwangye", villagers carried the sedan with his statue. The "Running Horse" dancers would dance all the way behind the sedan. The movements of a man shouldering something, sailing a boat, casting a net or something else, demonstrated lives of a farmer, a fisherman, or someone engaging in salt industry. Now the sacrifice ceremony has been cancelled. It has become a kind of pure male dance, with a hitching post and horse bells as stage props.

The "Hair Swinging Dance" is a kind of dance for Yamei women of the Gaoshan nationality, affected much by the sea. In the past, the Yamei women did not dance in the day according to their customs, so they danced in the moon night. The Yamei people live on an island named Lanyu. A warm and humid climate and sufficient sunshine give Yamei girls a vigorous and graceful body and pitch-black hair. They often walk bare-footed. In the bright moon night, they come to the tranquil seacoast and begin dancing on the beach filled with cobbles. At first, they stand in a row, loosen their hair and begin singing while gently swaying themselves. The wonderful sound of gliding pebbles under their feet and songs mingle with each other and become fairly poetic. Then they hold each other arm-in-arm, bow their body and swing their hair to the front. They do not stop until their hair touches the ground. At this point, they bend their knees lightly and swing their hair to the back violently. Before the hair goes down onto their shoulders, the hair is vertical to the body. The girls dance like this over and over until they have enjoyed themselves to the full satisfaction. Under difficult life conditions, they feel pleased and comfortable, for the simple but enthusiastic "Hair Swinging Dance" gives them youth and vigor. The long hair in the air looks like beating flames of their lives. (Fig.2-24)

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