Dragon Dance in Tu Village: Social Cohesion and Symbolic Warfare Academic Article uri icon


  • China has a rich heritage of "folk sports": traditional dance, processions and parades, games, martial arts, and acrobatics. Unfortunately, in the wake of social reforms designed to "modernize" the nation in the mid-20thcentury and the growing popularity of international sports, opportunities to document many of the folk sports in context may have been lost. In certain cases, however, reconstruction of the traditional contexts of folk sports in ritual, festival, or similar cultural enactments is possible. In such cases, we can attempt to understand their original social functions to create cohesion, articulate social conflict, mark boundaries, etc. This article considers the case of the Dragon Dance as performed during Spring Festival at Tu Village in Southeastern China. We argue that beyond the ancestral function of this folk sport as festival symbol, the dance serves as a vehicle for articulating territorial disputes between neighboring villages, a variety of surrogate warfare. The following article applies folkloristics, economic, political and symbolic anthropology to interpret the historic functions of the Dragon Dance complex and to illuminate general theories about the interconnections among the performed world and the social world. Idkan Poland Association.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Tu, C., Green, T. A., Zheng, G., & Qiang, F.

complete list of authors

  • Tu, Chuan-Fei||Green, Thomas A||Zheng, Guo-Hua||Qiang, Feng

publication date

  • January 2013