For the past 30 years, Wang De has been practicing the ancient art of Da Shuhua, a 500-year-old tradition that first began with blacksmiths in the Nuanquan village of China. Wanting a way to celebrate Chinese New Year, but without the means to afford traditional fireworks, these blacksmiths devised a new form of entertainment. By tossing molten iron against the walls, they created beautiful showers of sparks, beginning a practice that would soon become a part of their cultural heritage. Now, it’s a special part of Nuanquan’s legacy as there’s no place else on Earth to witness the fiery spectacle.
Though the display originated purely with iron cast against the wall – leaving a thin coating visible year-round – later experiments involved incorporating aluminum and copper into the molten display, producing green and white tones interspersed among the iron’s brilliant red.
…only four Da Shuhua performers remain in Nuanquan at last count. Making matters worse is the fact that the majority of these men are over the age of 40, meaning the tradition’s future is a precarious one.
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