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Leland Wong | all galleries >> Iu Mien of the San Francisco Bay Area > panwang_open013.jpg
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As a grand festival for worshiping Pan Hu, a remote ancestor of the Yao ethnic minority, King Pan Festival is evolved from the "Dance of King Pan" which was directed at expressing appreciation to King Pan for his favor and also praying for offspring's safety by means of singing and dancing. During the festival, people of the Yao ethnic group will sing the Song of King Pan and perform tambourin dance to worship the ancestor, in combination with a series of celebrating activities such as performance of devil stick dance and shooting off festival fireworks. Young men and women will single out their dream lovers in the antiphonal singing contests.

Being an epic created collectively and passed on from generation to generation, the Song of King Pan has various contents as its theme, such as the ancestors' pioneering, migration, mountain furrowing, hunting, love and marriage, etc. It contained initially some sheer religious ballads and was added with huge quantities of secular contents in the course of spreading. Therefore, its content has been increasingly richer and seven days and nights will be required to sing it through.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Pan Hu succeeded in chopping off the head of King Gao, an enemy of King Ping, who then betrothed his third daughter to Pan Hu and appointed him as king. Pan Hu was hereby awarded the honorific title "King Pan". Afterwards, King Pan and the third princess gave birth to six sons and six daughters. It is at that time that twelve surnames of the Yao ethnics came into being. Subsequently, King Pan was butted by an antelope off a cliff and passed away. His sons and daughters then made a tambourin out of sheepskin and worshiped their father by means of singing and dancing. This ceremony was held on every birthday of King Pan from then on. Still, another saying goes that the offspring of King Pan fortunately survived disasters in the course of migration by making a vow to King Pan. They then redeemed vows to him on his birthday annually. This is why King Pan Festival is also called "Redeeming vows to King Pan".

As a form of continuity of Yao people's traditional culture, King Pan Festival is an embodiment of their respect and gratitude to their ancestors.

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