Confucianism, the Literati, and Chinese Imperial Traditions

Customs and Rituals

Is dance also a significant ingredient in Confucian and CIT ritual?

Once a central feature of many rituals in China, Confucian dance has been preserved as an art form only in Korea. During the semiannual gathering to honor the spirits of Confucius and the sages at the Confucian University, and at the annual gathering to honor the kings of the Yi dynasty at the Royal Ancestral Shrine, dancers perform elaborate routines. Originally, Confucian dance was limited to male performers. Both military and nonmilitary forms of dance make up the repertoire. Dancers gesture with the long pheasant feathers and small flutes they carry. Complex ritual movement was formerly integral to virtually all the major ceremonies of CIT. Whether in the courtyards of the Forbidden City or around the altars of the Temple of Heaven and other sacred imperial sites, intricately choreographed scripts called for dance on a grand scale.


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