Do the performers really have their mouths penetrated by iron bars? Mazu Cultural Festival featuring amazing folk art performance opens in Haikou


Chinese Art  Updated:Thu, May 2, 2013 09:24 AM   By Bernd Chang


The first Qiongzhou Mazu Cultural Festival opened in Haikou, Hainan province on April 30. The opening ceremony featuring fabulous folk art performances especially the acrobatics of iron bar penetrating mouth has drawn large crowd of audience.

Themed "Go along with goodiness", the first Qiongzhou Mazu Cultural Festival opened in the Bigan Mazu Cultural Park in Haikou, Hainan province on April 30.

Co-sponsored by Bigan Cultural Research and Hainan Mazu Cultural Investment Company, the 2013 Qiongzhou Mazu culture festival is the largest Mazu culture festival ever held in Hainan and will run for three days until May 2nd.

The opening ceremony featuring in fabulous folk art performances including waist drums, dragon and lion dances and especially the acrobatics of iron bar penetrating mouth has drawn large crowd of audience.

The performance of iron bar penetrating mouth is called Chuanzhang (穿仗) in Chinese. Conducted by a single artist or a group of artists, the amazing performance has drawn not only large crowd of spectators on the spot but also much greater number of Chinese netizens to watch, appreciate, exclaim and to guess.

Pictures of the acrobatics show an iron bar penetrates into the mouth of the folk artist and comes out through the cheek.

Have the performers really had their cheeks punctured by iron bars? The performance have confused many of the audience. From the pictures, it is really difficult to get the answer.

Look at the pictures and judge by yourself.

Mazu (妈祖), also spelt Matsu, is the indigenous goddess of the sea who is said to protect fishermen and sailors. Mazu is the most influential patron saint of sailing across the world. She is said to protect all the fishermen and sailors in Southern China and East Asia. Born as Lin Moniang (Chinese: 林默娘) in Fujian in southeast China around 960 AD, she always helped citizens out of danger when they were on the sea. She sacrificed herself in one rescuing effort at the age of 28. After her death, her spirit has existed and guided fishermen and sailors to safety. Chinese coastal citizens developed strong worship toward Mazu. Where there are Chinese, where there are Mazu temples. Today there are more than 5000 Mazu temples in almost every corner of the world.

Mazu is widely worshipped in the south-eastern coastal areas of China and neighbouring areas in Southeast Asia, especially Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan, as well as Vietnam and Taiwan all of which have strong seafaring traditions, as well as migrant communities elsewhere with sizeable populations from these areas. Mazu also has a significant influence on East Asian sea culture, especially in mainland China and Taiwan.

Hainan people have been worshipping Mazu for more than 700 years. There are more than 100 Mazu temples in Hainan. The strong Mazu culture in Hainan not only enhances Hainan’s local culture and citizens’ cultural life, but also add more charm to Hainan tourism.
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