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The Sword Dance in Ancient China

The period of Tang Dynasty was the period for the blooming of music and dance. It left the richest classifications of dance than any other feudal dynasties. Therefore, those who learn Chinese in China are told that Tang Dynasty was the peak of the dance in ancient China. One of the symbols of the prosperous dance in Tang Dynasty was the formation of the types of the dance accompanied by music.

In Tang Dynasty, there were two totally different types of dance formed, namely, the health dance and the soft dance. The foreigners who study Chinese in China should know clearly about these two kinds of dances. The health dance is featured by the strong physical actions with big movement range. According to the name we know the feature of the soft dance. The health dance was very popular in the imperial palace.

The sword dance is one of the most popular dances belong to the style of the health dance. It was named because the performers act it by holding the swords. If you go to language school to study Mandarin in China, teachers would tell you that it was gradually developed from the martial arts in the folk.

There are many forms in sword dance. Generally speaking, the dancers were the women well-equipped. But it can also be performed by men and women together and four people as well as more soldiers together. In addition, students who learn Chinese in China should know that there was another kind of sword dance for the young people created by those travelling performers.

There are also different types of swords in the sword dance. The main types are the single sword, the double sword and the short sword like knife. Therefore, foreigners who study Chinese in China may know that different swords should be chosen in various dancing styles. The sword waving ways are also various. The main two are “zhan jian” and “xing jian”. The former is featured by the rapidity and the latter is performed very smoothly.

The sword dance appeared in a very early time. According to the record in “the School Sayings of Confucius”, Zi Lu, the student of Confucius, ever waved the sword and danced before Confucius. Foreign learners who study Mandarin in China should know that it is the earliest record about the sword dance. When it came to Han Dynasty, the sword dance started to become popular. If you learn Chinese in China, you can see there are the pictures describing the sword dance in the painting brick unearthed in Sichuan and Shandong.

In addition, teachers may also tell the students who study Chinese in China that sword dance may be full of aggressiveness because it is a kind of weapon. Learners may be familiar with a story about a dinner at Hongmen where treachery was planned, which is recorded in “Records of the Grand Historian”. The purpose of Xiang Zhuang’s sword dance was to kill Liu Bang.

After Han Dynasty, sword was gradually replaced by the longer weapon. Therefore, it was no longer the main weapon. In this situation, the fitness function of the sword dance was greatly developed. When it came to Tang Dynasty, the sword dance had a further development. Accordingly, those who learn Chinese in China can see it was also more popular and more widely performed.

Some students who study Mandarin in China may know that General Pei’s sword dance and Li Bai’s poetry and Zhang Xu’s grass writing were regarded as three wonders. General Pei’s sword dance was recorded in the book “du yi zhi”. In some famous verses of Li Bai and Cen Cen’s poetry, we can see they treated sword dance as a way to express their feelings.

In the period of Song Dynasty, the sword dance was developed as the popular dance in imperial palace. What’s more, some simple plots were added to the dance. When foreign learners come to study Chinese in China, they can also see sword dance in modern dance drama such as “Small Swords Society” and “stealing Immortal’s Grasses”. Gongsun Daniang was a famous dancer can perform various sword dances.

As a matter of fact, there are many kinds of health dances in ancient time. The sword dance is one of the important dances. Through the introduction above, learners will know more about the history and some other information about the sword dance.

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