Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance first performed on the day of Mid-Autumn Festival in 1880 and thus possessed a history of over 140 years. Every year, three consecutive nights starting from the 14th night of the eighth lunar month, the annual Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is taken place across the Tai Hang community to pray for safety and peace.
Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance becomes a signature event in Tai Hang at the Mid-Autumn Festival and it is one of the annual highlights promoted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Accompanied by traditional Chinese gongs and drums, the giant Fire Dragon, festooned with over 10,000 burning incense sticks, needs a team of about 300 people to weave its way through the streets in Tai Hang.
In June 2011, Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance was successfully inscribed onto the Third National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, to recognize the efforts in preserving and promoting local heritage.
Tai Hang Fire Dragon Heritage Center is situated at 12 School Street, Tai Hang, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. It is a three-storey building. The original building was constructed in 1909 (which is the late Qing Dynasty in China) and named as “Hung Shing Yi Hok” (Confucius free school for the poor). The school was founded by Hong Kong Confucian Society. The original building was severely destroyed during the Second World War and reconstruction on the same site was finished on 20th November 1949. Throughout the years, the building was used for various education purposes by different organizations until 2010, in which the building was vacant afterwards.
The existing building was assessed as a Grade 3 Historic Building by Antiquities Advisory Board in December 2010. In December 2013, No. 12 School Street was included in the Batch IV of the Revitalizing Historic Buildings through Partnership Scheme. The building is revitalized to be Tai Hang Fire Dragon Heritage Centre, with the aim to preserve and pass on the heritage of Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, preserve the local legacy of Hakka culture, and engage the community in heritage conservation. The revitalization works commenced in November 2019.
Tai Hang is facing a gong-shaped bay and there are two steep mountains on its south. Tai Hang got its name as there was a “big pit” passing through the two mountains and brought the waters north to the sea. According to records, there were already inhabitants lived at Tai Hang before the foundation of Hong Kong in 1841.
Tai Hang is developed into a peaceful community with a comprehensive collection of historic buildings and monuments, reflecting a special cultural characteristic full of human touch. Together with certain input from the artists who live or work at Tai Hang, there appears an attractive portrait of blending old and new living styles.
In the early Qing dynasty, an anti-insurgency order demanded that the southern coastal regions be cleared out as was known as the Great Frontier Shift. Later under the rule of Kanxi, there was repel of the clearance edicts and great incentives were offered to re-populate. Hakka people (live on reclamation of mountain areas) moved back to the coastal regions and relocated to Hong Kong. In the mid-19th Century, Hong Kong already had over 300 Hakka villages. In addition, there were renowned Hakka villages at Tai Hang. These Hakka villagers mainly earn their living through tilling the lands, fishing and providing supplies and services to ships passing via Hong Kong.
Throughout the development of society, Hakka villages eventually disappeared in the urban area and were replaced by modern buildings. However, the strong community cohesion of Hakka people helped to preserve most of the traditional Hakka living styles, although certain elements eventually merged with other Chinese and western cultures – thus formed a unique living culture in Hong Kong.
Photos Credit: 2014 Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, bigfang.tw, City University of Hong Kong, East Week, Gwulo,Pinterest, Hakka.com, Hong Kong Tourism Board , HK01, Hong Kong Commercial Daily, Hulu Culture , ifeng.com, kknews.cc, Mr. CHAN Tin-kuen, Mr. Thomas Bernard, Oriental Daily News, Queen’s College History Museum, qq.com, sina.com.cn, Skylines of Our City, Sohu, The Epoch Times, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, WeShare, yimtintsaiartsfestival.hk, Youth.gov.hk, zhihu.com
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