On May 14, 2012, the Men’s Community Orchestra in Dali, Yunnan, P.R. China allowed the ChinaVine team to document a special performance coinciding with the Rao San Ling festival. The performance took place at the San Sheng Gong temple. Following the performance, the community leaders allowed our to team to interview and discuss the history of the community.
In 1949, the Men’s Community was canceled due to restrictions during the Cultural Revolution, but during the 1980s the men from the Daojing community continued to meet and practice informally. Later on, economic development led people to believe they needed more culture so the governor asked if the group could create a community orchestra. August 27th, 2005 marked the reformation of the Daojing Men’s Community Orchestra. They chose this date as it coincides with Confucius’s birthday and so the group also holds sacrifices for Confucius.
The San Sheng Gong temple was originally built during the Ching Dynasty. The temple was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but rebuilt in 2007. After the reconstruction, women were permitted to join the community. In order to make the statues of the Temple Gods, artists came from various villages in the region. In most cases, the artistry in a temple will be created by a local artist, although in the cases different village collaborated together to recreate the temple. The statues within are constructed from mud and grass string and then left in the sun to dry out. Following the drying process, artists paint the statues. Once the statues are completed, villages will use rice to bless them. Another blessing uses chicken blood to stain the statue’s lips red. After these blessings, the Gods can be used for protection. The temple also serves as a musical school for the village. Many of the children in the village are self-taught by listening and following the elders. Additional photos from the afternoon are available on Flickr.