What Is Da Shuhua?

Quck answer

Da Shuhua is a traditional Chinese art form that involves painting with molten iron. It originated in the city of Nuanquan, where blacksmiths would showcase their skills during the Lantern Festival. The process involves heating iron in a furnace until it becomes liquid, and then using a ladle to fling the molten iron onto a large canvas or wall. As the iron hits the surface, it creates beautiful sparks and patterns. The resulting artwork is unique and mesmerizing, with intricate designs and vibrant colors. Da Shuhua is not only a visual spectacle but also a symbol of good luck and prosperity.


What do you enjoy most about the Fourth of July? For many children, celebrating Independence Day means having fun in the sun, having a picnic on the beach, spending time with friends and family, and watching fireworks in the night sky. Yes, we are referring to fireworks!

Independence Day is not the only holiday when people can enjoy fireworks. You can also see fireworks in the sky on New Year’s Eve, as well as on other holidays and special occasions throughout the year.

Fireworks originated in China over a hundred years ago. However, they were not as affordable and accessible as they are today. In those times, only the wealthiest individuals in China could afford fireworks.

Nevertheless, this did not stop a particular group of people in a Chinese village from creating their own unique version of fireworks. Over 300 years ago, the blacksmiths in the village of Nuanquan started their own tradition of celebrating Chinese New Year with a fiery display.

The blacksmiths would heat scrap iron to temperatures exceeding 1,800˚ F. On a cold winter night, they would use a wooden ladle to throw the molten iron at a tall stone wall. Upon contact with the wall, the molten iron would explode into thousands of sparks, creating an effect similar to fireworks.

The shower of molten iron sparks is said to resemble flowers falling down on the blacksmiths. This is why the annual Festival of Lights that formed around this unique tradition is called Da Shuhua, which translates to “tree flower.”

Da Shuhua has become an enduring tradition that is still only practiced in Nuanquan. Villagers still gather scrap metal to donate for the yearly celebration. The blacksmiths have also started using other metals like copper and aluminum to produce green and white sparks in addition to the red sparks generated by the molten iron.

If the idea of throwing molten iron at a large stone wall sounds dangerous to you, you are correct! It is a life-threatening tradition, considering that the blacksmiths only wear straw hats and thick protective clothing made from sheepskin.

However, over the course of several centuries, no blacksmith has ever died or suffered severe burns during a Da Shuhua performance. This is a testament to the special skills they have developed as blacksmiths and passed on to others over time.

Unfortunately, there are only four Da Shuhua performers left in Nuanquan, and three of them are over the age of 40. Nevertheless, Da Shuhua remains a popular tradition, and people hope that the skills will be passed on to younger blacksmiths in the future.

Try It Out

Are you ready to celebrate Da Shuhua? Find a friend or family member to help you explore the following activities:

  • Interested in witnessing Da Shuhua in action? Go online and watch the Showering in Molten Iron video. How does Da Shuhua compare to modern fireworks? Which one would you prefer to see? Why?
  • Is it possible to melt metal without using a large furnace or a blowtorch? Let’s explore! Visit This Is How You Melt Metal with Magnets online to discover how you can melt metal using just some wire and electricity. Isn’t that amazing?
  • Create your own artistic fireworks at home today. Follow the instructions online to make Sparkler Fireworks using everyday household items. Which colors will you choose? Enjoy the process of making your own crafts that resemble fireworks!

References

  • https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/da-shuhua
  • http://www.odditycentral.com/events/men-shower-themselves-with-molten-iron-during-fiery-chinese-celebration.html
  • http://scribol.com/travel/off-the-beaten-track/insane-chinese-festival-sees-men-getting-showered-with-molten-iron/3/

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