The Li people, like many other ethnic minorities, are good at singing and dancing. Their dances originated mainly from their work in the fields and as a form of ancestor worship. Among their dances, the Tiao Niang Dance (跳娘舞) is one of the ancient folk dances of the Li ethnic people on Hainan Island.
In old times, the dance was meant to drive beasts away, to help a person get over a shock, or to worship ancestors.
Nowadays, the Tiao Niang dance can still be witnessed among some Li tribes living in the mountainous regions of central Hainan Island, or as an entertainment spectacle. The dance is performed to worship the ancestors, the Creator of universe, and to pray for a prosperous year.
The Tiao Niang dance is also called the "bowl-beating dance (打碗舞)." The female dancers of the Li ethnic minority usually get dressed together in folk costumes. Dancers include drum beaters and bowl holders. To the rhythm of the drums, the bowl holders hold the bottom of the bowl with the left hand, and beat the top of the bowl with silver chopsticks held in the right hand.
Sometimes, they also put the bowls on their heads as they move their waists rhythmically to the left and right, beating the bowls with chopsticks held in their right hands.
Nowadays, as greater urbanization has disrupted the patterns of the traditional village life of the Li people, shifting the layout of villages and living spaces, the Tiao Niang Dance is practiced less and less as this traditional culture and folk life fades, and young people lose interest. Today, only a small sliver of the elderly Li women dancers aged between 70 and 80 years old remain to perform this ancient folk art.
If you are planning a vacation for travel and sightseeing in Hainan for the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday and hoping to enjoy this special treat of seeing this ancient dance performance of the Li People, a grand blessing ceremony of Hainan’s Li people will be held at 9:30 at Narada Resort and Spa Qixian Mount on January 28th, 2017, where you can get a closer look to the traditional culture of the indigenous people living on the island.