Four Sacred Animals dance through spring festivals

The elderly members of the Four Sacred Animals Dance troupe in Hanoi’s Duc Khe hamlet entertain their audience with an impressive performance. Their dances are meticulously choreographed with the moves of the four sacred animals. In a large common ground, villagers watch a 35-meter-long dragon fashioned from red cloth moving around under the control of the dance troupe members.  Next to the dragon, a unicorn figure shakes its head, blinking its big eyes while moving around a club as if performing martial arts. A tortoise figure moves slowly, bobbing its head, while a phoenix spreads its beautiful feathers in movements as if flying to the rhythm of the processional music. Historian Le Van Lan said, “The 4 sacred animals were mythologized by the Vietnamese. The dragon represents authority, the royal court, the King, the rain and the wind. The unicorn symbolizes power, while the turtle is supposed to bring prosperity for every family. The phoenix stands for nobility and sometimes is compared to the Queen for its beauty. Since the very old days, these four sacred animals’ shapes and movements have been featured in the Vietnamese people’s dance, performed at festivals as a way to express gratitude to the Gods, and pray for bumper crops and a new year full of peace and prosperity. The musicians who accompany the dancers play a very important part in the show, according to Historian Le Van Lan. “All the dancers and musicians wear make-up and move the figures of the four sacred animals… [Read full story]

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