Nuo Culture in Pingxiang


Nuo Temple

The time of building Nuo Temple in Pingxiang is not definite, whether it was built in Tang, or Song or Yuan Dynasty is unknown. To build temples for the God of Nuo is a characteristic of the Nuo culture in Pingxiang. With the distinguishing feature, Nuo temples here are not only numerous in quantities and widespread but also are large-scaled and multifunctional. There is a saying that ¡°Five miles a temple of General and Ten miles a Nuo Temple¡±. There must be a Nuo Temple if there is the God of Nuo existing. Since 1950s, there were 52 temples, 20 temples survived now. Nuo Temple here has a distinguishing feature of Jiangxi. It is generally composed by three parts of antechamber, center hall and back hall. In the center of the Center Hall displayed the altar, incense burner table and Nuo altar, sacrificing the Nuo masks.

Every year on December 24th and January 15th in lunar calendar is the most lively and busiest time for the Nuo temples. For the Nuo temples and troupes of Nuo Dance are belonged to each clan, they should pray in the ancestral hall before dancing Nuo Dance, and then they can request for the God of Nuo out of the altar in the temple. On the day of January 15th in lunar calendar, there will be Nuo Dance performances all night long.


Nuo Masks

Nuo mask plays an indispensable role in Nuo Dance, which has two kinds for sacrifice and performance. The one for sacrifice is heavier and solid, with a general size of 117¡Á60 cm. And the one for performance is lighter and smaller, with a size of 30¡Á20 cm. Eyes, nose and mouth are hollowed out for ventilation, suitable for dancers¡¯ wearing. The molding of these masks emphasizes the characters¡¯ temperament. According to the characters¡¯ temperament, applying the combination of exaggeration and verisimilitude, the graver use knife instead of brush carve the varied lively figures of Gods by the use of skills of embossment, openwork carving, full relief and line cutting. There are three kinds of masks. One is looking ferocious and savage, with the threatening gestures like a beast of prey. Second has the amiable looking of civility, with eyes semi-closed, smile on the face. Third is witty and humorous with grimace and squinted eyes.

There were more than 4000 Nuo masks, but now only over 700 were preserved, made in Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. The carving of Nuo masks embodies the intelligence and refined skills and carries on the worship and understanding of Nuo. The production of these masks vividly and incisively demonstrates the idolatry and hatred of evil spirits, making us still can experience the powerful awe of inviting God and driving out evils.