Mysterious Shaanxi Shehuo Carnival

The origin of the Shehuo Festival dates back 2,500 years. “She” refers to the god of land and “huo”refers to the god of fire. So this festival was originally held to worship the two gods. The festival hit a peak during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Shehuo Carnival is also called “Dumb Show”. The Show is played in the form of parade. And the performers’ roles are recognized by their masks. Based on the character’s appearance and personality, the masks convey the figures’ characters with Sun and Moon stipes, fire stripes, vortex stripes, frog stripes etc. Audience can identify the characters’ loyalty (to their country) and kindness. The one with red face is definitely loyal to his country while the one with white face must be a traitor. Black face represents justice, yellow face means atrocity, blue and green face shows a Robin hood-like figure, golden or silver face reads evil spirits or supernatural beings.

shehuo-02With it’s mysterious and profound cultural connotation and age-old history, Baoji (a city in western Shaanxi Province) Shehuo mask aroused the extensive attention by academic circles and photographers. Every year hundreds of photographers are attracted to Baiji to record every details of this grand cultural activity.

Today, the festival has become an annual celebration supported by the government. Everyone can participate if they want to. The most eye-catching part of the festival is, of course, the parade. In the parade, there are all kinds of folk performances. You can watch gong and drum beating, dragon and lion dances, stilt-walking and land boat dances.