Fiery fronds

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Snapshot - Anyang, He­nan Prov­ince China PHOTO: Eyevine

In China’s He­nan Prov­ince, per­form­ers throw sear­ing hot molten iron on to the cold brick sur­face of the city wall caus­ing it to ex­plode into cas­cades of flares and sparks. Dubbed Da Shuhua, mean­ing ‘beat­ing down the tree flow­ers’, the cer­e­mony is a part of the Lantern Fes­ti­val cel­e­bra­tions which take place on the 15th day of the Chi­nese New Year. The prac­tice can be traced back 500 years and arose when poor black­smiths, who were un­able to af­ford fire­works to let off dur­ing cel­e­bra­tions, be­gan to im­pro­vise their own dis­plays us­ing molten iron. The prac­tice proved pop­u­lar and soon be­came an an­nual fix­ture.

Each year, vil­lagers do­nate scrap metal to the black­smiths who heat it to more than 1,500°C in a vast, burn­ing fur­nace placed in the heart of the vil­lage. The liq­uid metal is then flung into the air us­ing wooden la­dles that have been soaked in wa­ter for three days to pro­tect them from the in­tense heat. The prac­tice is cer­tainly not for the faint-hearted – the per­form­ers are of­ten burned by the fly­ing sparks.

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