Trade Resources Culture & Life The Nadun Festival Is a Unique Folk Custom in Sanchuan Region

The Nadun Festival Is a Unique Folk Custom in Sanchuan Region

Nadun Festival of the Tu Minority

Nadun Festival of the Tu Minority_1

The Nadun Festival is a unique folk custom in Sanchuan Region, Minhe County, Qinghai Province. It is a festival that Tu people celebrate the harvest, enjoy social activities and have fun. It is also called "Peasants' Fair" or "Harvest Celebration Fair". Nadun is the transliteration of Tu language, carrying the same meaning as "Nadam" in Mongolian, referring to "having fun" and "entertaining".

Each July in the lunar calendar is the harvest season in Sanchuan Region, Minhe, when fruits are fragrant, new grain is stored and new grain oil is put to the vat. The Nadun Festival is celebrated by about 70 villages in seven towns, including Guanting, Zhongchuan and so on. The Tu people living here will hold "Nadun" dance from one village to another (from Songjiacun, Xiachuan where crops get matured earliest) to celebrate the harvest. The sequence of the Nadun Festival is arranged in accordance with the time of harvest, i.e. from Xiachuan to Zhongchuan and then to Shangchuan. Generally, the festival starts from 12th July of lunar calendar and is called "July Fair" among the folks. Activities will last for two months until September 15 in the lunar calendar. The ceremonial festival is dubbed as the "longest carnival in the world".

The historical origin of Nadun Festival has no written records. People generally recognize such a story of its origin. In the late Yuan and early Ming Dynasties, Tu people got rid of nomadic life gradually and stepped into the period of agricultural farming. To solve contradictions in agricultural farming and harmonize the interpersonal relationship, a collective temple fair was formed, i.e. "Nadun". According to experts, the Nadun Festival should be originated from the middle Yuan Dynasty and thrived in early Ming Dynasty based on the content, forms and clothing of Nuo (exorcising) dance and opera.

The Nadun Festival is divided into three stages. The first stage is preparation, which starts from Tomb-sweeping Day. The villagers in Sanchuan offer sacrifices to God Erlang and local gods in their own temples and elect "Big Boss" and "Small Boss" for Nadun Festival in July of the same year. They are responsible for fund-raising before the festival, maintaining social order in the village, coordinating production management (such as water use sequence in fields), and organizing and implementing specific activities during the festival. The second stage is small meetings. Before the festival, villagers build big tents in the fair site to place statues of Gods and offer sacrifices. Big and small bosses will beat Gongs and drums one day before the festival and start a series of activities, like offering sacrifices, which is followed by the formal day of Nadun Festival.


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Nadun Festival of the Tu Minority