Home | China | Beijing | Photo of the Week #21: Red Ribbon Dance, Beijing

Photo of the Week #21: Red Ribbon Dance, Beijing

red ribbon dance temple of heaven beijing

A local Beijinger practices his ribbon dancing in the Temple of Heaven Park, Beijing

Another trip to Beijing and another batch of photos to get through. I think I’m up to my eighth time visiting Beijing by now, although I lost count a couple of years back. This time I was giving my parents the grand tour. Against everybody’s better judgement, they’d booked to come and see me in Shanghai for the ludicrously lengthy time of 17 days, and as 17 days in Shanghai is nobody’s idea of a fun time well spent, it was up to me to devise a way of making those two and a half weeks worth the air fare.

Four days in Shanghai either side of trips to Beijing, Hangzhou and Suzhou was the masterplan I came up with, and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out – plenty of sights seen, plenty of photos taken, and the type of blue skies in Beijing that make you wonder whether all this talk of air pollution isn’t actually a pack of stinking lies.

Anyway, here’s a photo taken on a freezing cold day at the Temple of Heaven Park some time last week. The park is one of my favourite people-watching spots in Beijing. There’s always something going on and always photographs waiting to be taken. This particular photograph is probably one of my favourite photos I’ve taken in Beijing. I love the way the guy’s face is framed by the ribbon. It’s a little out of focus if you really want to get 100% zoomed in. But you should never let the quest for sharpness get in the way of a good picture.

The art of ribbon dancing itself – known as cǎi​dài wǔ​dǎo (彩带舞蹈) in Chinese – is said to have originated during the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), and though ribbons of any colour can be used, red, as the colour of luck and happiness in Chinese tradition, generally takes preference. Indeed, red ribbon dances are traditionally performed during harvest festivals and to celebrate the new year. Given that the Chinese year of the goat begins in four days time, I’d say this guy’s timing was spot on. Thanks for the great picture Mr Ribbon Man.

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