Huijie Festival of Achang Ethnic Minority
As a traditional holiday of the Achang people, theHuijie Festival usuallyfalls in mid-September of each Chinese lunar year. The Achang people believe in the Hinayana. Huijie used to be a religious get-together. Legend has it that a Ge Da Ma (In Achang language, it means Bodhisattva) overcame many difficulties on his way to the heaven for acquiring the scriptures and finally succeeding in it. Then he decided to return to the world on September 15. To welcome his return, the Achang people arranged the black dragon and white elephant; young men and women collected rice and prepared vegetarian diet for the offering. This gradually became a traditional festival.
On the occasion, men dress in blue, black or white frocks with buttons down the front and black trousers, with a bag on the shoulder. And they wear a long piece of headcloth. Married women put on clothes buttoned down the front with long and narrow sleeves, and skirts covering the knees. They also wrap puttees and black or blue head cloth. Girls mostly set their braids over their heads. They have on their chests four ranges of silver buttons on juxtaposition, on which hang four silver chains. They also wear ornaments such as flowers, chaplets, and earrings. During the holiday, the main activities includeplayingwhite elephant and black dragon dance.The white elephants and black dragons are made by handicraftsmen in the villages, who use bamboo as the frames, paper as body cover and cloth as trunk. While playing the white elephants, a man hides himself inside and draws the rope on the pulley to control the swing up and down of the trunk. Young men in attires wave the black dragons.
At the beginning of the Huijie, people tie red silk on the white elephant and black dragon. By beating drums and gongs, men and women, young or old, gather around the elephant and dragon playing team, going around the village once. Then they all come to the square, and encircle the elephant and dragon. Abruptly the drums, gongs and cymbals start beating together. People begin to perform the merry and bold Elephant-Leg Drum Dance. While dancing, the cymbal beaters keep standing side on side with the drummers, jumping left and right, extending and drawing back from time to time, body heaving like wave. They make a large stride ahead while dancing, then squat by retreating, with striding, retreating and squatting three times. When the performance reaches the upsurge, the crowd of onlookers cheer and applaud. At the same time, the white elephants shake their trunks much more frequently and the black dragons dance more fiercely.