"Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun": A Traditional Folk Lantern Dance

"Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun": A Traditional Folk Lantern Dance

The "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" is a folk lantern dance originating in Taiyang Town, Lin'an City. Named for its use of five uniquely styled phoenix lanterns, this dance has a fixed performance format. It is especially popular during temple fairs, market days, festivals, celebrations, and harvest seasons, drawing the love and admiration of local people.


As recorded in the *Yu Qian Geography Record*, Taiyang Town is located twenty li west of Yu Qian, featuring a unique geographical environment with Phoenix Mountain to the east and four Phoenix Mountains guarding the northwest. This layout resembles the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun," forming a magnificent natural tableau. This topography is closely tied to the beautiful legend of the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun."

In Taiyang Village, Taiyang Town, lived an elderly folk artist named Wang Zhengtai (1919-2007). He often recounted the legend of the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun," a story passed down through generations, full of mystery and aspiration. According to Wang, their family's genealogy, the *Wang Family Genealogy*, also documents this legend, highlighting its deep influence in the area.

The legend of the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" is intertwined with Taiyang Town's geography. The town seems to embody the legendary land, where the five Phoenix Mountains dance towards the sun, symbolizing auspiciousness and prosperity. This blend of natural landscape and cultural legend adds a layer of mystique and romance to Taiyang Town.

Despite the passage of time, the legend of the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" continues to be told in Taiyang Town, becoming a unique cultural heritage. When people stand on Phoenix Mountain and gaze at the four Phoenix Mountains in the northwest, they seem to see the five phoenixes dancing in the morning sun, bringing endless hope and beauty. This legend not only enriches Taiyang Town's cultural heritage but also remains a cherished memory for the locals.


Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun Lantern Dance Process

The process of the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" folk lantern dance can be summarized in the following steps:

Preparation Stage:

1. Select a performance venue, usually during local temple fairs or market days.
2. Prepare dance props, especially the five unique phoenix lanterns and cloud pieces.
3. Organize the dance troupe, including performers and musicians.


1. The dance officially begins as the music starts.
2. There is usually an introduction or opening speech explaining the dance's background and significance.

Dance Performance:

1. The five phoenix lanterns, controlled by dancers, begin to dance gracefully.
2. Dance movements mimic the phoenix spreading its wings, singing in harmony, chasing, depending on each other, and playing.
3. Dancers continuously change formations and movements, such as stringing phoenixes, walking phoenixes, and leading phoenixes, to showcase the phoenixes' agility and beauty.
4. The dance incorporates cloud pieces and other props to create the illusion of phoenixes soaring through the clouds.


1. In the dance's climax, the five phoenixes perform more complex dance moves around the center.
2. The music's tempo quickens, and the dance moves become more intense and spectacular.


1. As the music gradually fades, the dance slowly comes to an end.
2. The five phoenix lanterns gather together to form a beautiful pattern or shape.
3. The dancers thank the audience, concluding the performance.

Throughout the process, music accompaniment and dance movements are closely coordinated, creating a joyous and harmonious atmosphere. The "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" folk lantern dance not only showcases the dancers' skills and talents but also conveys people's aspirations and prayers for a better life.


Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun Props

The main props for the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" folk lantern dance include:

Phoenix Lanterns:

- Quantity: Five. These are the core props of the dance, each uniquely crafted to resemble a phoenix.
- Design and Crafting: Phoenix lanterns are typically handmade by artisans using bamboo strips, silk, colored paper, and other materials, creating vivid and brightly colored figures.
- Function: In the dance, the phoenix lanterns move gracefully with the dancers' movements, simulating various postures of the phoenix, creating a fantastic and beautiful visual effect.

Cloud Props:

- Materials and Shapes: Cloud props are usually made of lightweight fabrics or plastic materials, shaped like clouds.
- Function: During the dance, cloud props complement the phoenix lanterns, creating the scene of phoenixes soaring through the clouds, enhancing the dance's layers and visual impact.

Costumes and Decorations:

- Performers' Costumes: Performers typically wear costumes that coordinate with the colors of the phoenix lanterns, enhancing the overall aesthetic of the performance.
- Stage Decorations: The performance venue may be decorated with backgrounds or props related to phoenixes and clouds to enhance the dance's thematic atmosphere.

Music and Lighting Equipment:

- Music Equipment: Used to play accompaniment music, guiding the dance's rhythm and atmosphere.
- Lighting Equipment: Used to illuminate the performance venue and phoenix lanterns, highlighting the dance's visual effects and creating a more spectacular stage effect.

In summary, the props for the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" folk lantern dance are diverse, each playing a unique role in the dance, collectively creating a splendid visual and auditory feast.


Development and Inheritance

Besides participating in local festivals, the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" has been invited to perform at various provincial and national folk art events. It won the Gold Prize at the 2003 China Lin'an "Forest Expo" Mass Cultural Activities, the Best Performance Award at the 2004 "Wahaha West Lake Carnival," the Bronze Award at the 2005 "Huaxia Yijue" Folk Art Competition, and the Best Contribution Award at the 2009 "Zhejiang Province Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the National Day." Over the years, the "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun" has performed in Shanghai, Nantong, Tonglu, Dongyang, Xiaoshan, Hangzhou, Ningbo, and other places. In 2010, it was invited to participate in the 27th European Folk Art Festival in Germany, where it was loved and praised by international audiences.



1. "Five Phoenixes Facing the Sun." Zhejiang Intangible Cultural Heritage Network. Retrieved March 13, 2015.

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