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Bright sparks

2013-02-24 09:21

By (China Daily)

Fireworks will fill the skies in China as the nation celebrates the Lantern Festival today, the 15th day of the first lunar month. But in one village in China, locals use molten iron to create their fiery show.

Chinese mark the last day of Lunar New Year on Feb 24, which is called Lantern Festival. In Nuanquan village, Yu county in Hebei province, the residents have been celebrating the special day for more than 300 years - by throwing molten iron at a wall to create showers of make-do "fireworks". The tradition has been named an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Each year, the villagers put on an hour-long performance called Dashuhua (literally "tree flowers"). The iron performers are protected from all that molten metal by nothing more than a hat and a sheepskin coat. Is it dangerous? The performers joke that it's not, as long as you're not afraid to die.

In other parts of China, appreciating lanterns and eating yuanxiao (round dumplings made of glutinous rice flour) under the full moon are the most common observances of this day. Some families hang lanterns of various shapes and sizes in their homes, or have their children carry lanterns using a long pole for some fun. More importantly, Lantern Festival is a day for family reunion.

Bright sparks

Using a ladle, the performers throw arcs of burning molten metal through the air that burst into glowing sparks onto the cold, hard wall. The ladle is made of wood, soaked for three days, but it still smoulders so the performers have to throw the metal as quickly as possible. By experimenting with metals, the performers have managed to create a multi-colored array of "flowers", improving on the original red. File Photo by Mark Ralston / Agence France-Presse

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