is the grandest festival among the Yao people. It is said that this is a festival to commemoratehe struggle of their ancestors against the exploitation of ancient hereditary chieftains. Panwang Festival has been commonly referred to as Entertaining God of Panwang and thanking him for making their wishes come true. It is held on October 16th according to the local calendar every three or five years; however, in some areas, the Yao people have this festival once in twelve years.
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 ancestor.
The Panwang Festival, also called Fulfilling King Pan's Wishes, is a grand festival which commemorates their ancestor Panwang, enjoying a history of over 1,700 years. The Yao clan, men and women, the old and the young, all dress in their custom attires with unique ethnic features and offer sacrifices to the ancestor Panwang in forms of recitals, libation, dances and incense.
The frequency of this festival depends on the traditions of different Yao branches, how good the harvest is and the health of both people and their livestock. Usually several families or maybe even the whole village celebrate this festival together. During the main ceremony, the folk master will entertain the God of Panwang, pray and sing songs for him, and villagers will play the long-drum dance which asks Panwang for protection.
▲ Climb a pole with knives : A master climbs a pole with knives at the Panwang (King Pan) Festival, which kicked off at Jianghua Yao Autonomous Prefecture in central China's Hunan province on November 18, 2013. Nearly 1,000 representatives of Yao counties and villages from Hunan, Guangdong and Guangxi gathered here to attend the annual event, which is celebrated by the people of the Yao ethnic group on the 16th day of the 10th month in the Chinese lunar calendar to worship their mythological ancestor Pan Hu.
▲ Step on glowing fire: A master steps on glowing fire at the Panwang Festival, which kicked off at Jianghua Yao Autonomous Prefecture in central China's Hunan province on November 18, 2013. Nearly 1,000 representatives of Yao counties and villages from Hunan, Guangdong and Guangxi gathered here to attend the annual event, which is celebrated by the people of the Yao ethnic group on the 16th day of the 10th month in the Chinese lunar calendar to worship their mythological ancestor Pan Hu.