Culture

Climbing knife ladder

Updated: Nov 26, 2019 By Climbing knife ladder China Daily Print

Tulaosi, the traditional wizard of the Tujia minority, can perform the knife ladder climbing. This performance is meant to drive out evil spirit and remove ill fortune for house owners.

There are two kinds of knife ladder, the horizontal and the vertical.

In the former kind of performance, People sharpen 12 long knives and horizontally tie the knives with upturned knife edge on a flat wooden board (which is placed on two benches) with the height of 50 to 70 cm from the ground. Tulaosi leads the way in the front with his vestment and treads on the knife edge moving ahead and other performers follow him.

There is another way of horizontal knife ladder climbing. Seven performers stand at an interval of 50 cm in two rows (3 in one row and 4 in another) facing each other. The first and last people in the four-people row leave their outward hand empty while others hold one knife together with the person they are facing using both hands. One person holds the handle and the other holds the tip of the knife both with extending arms. There are 6 knives in total. Tulaosi leads the way and the host follows. If the divination shows yin or yang after going through the ladder, they will do it again until an auspicious divination appears.

It is said that no matter how sharp the blade is, Tulaosi will never get hurt because he has sealed the blades. After the performance, Tulaosi will then open the seal, or the blades are still blunt and the knives cannot be used.

In the vertical knife ladder performance, 24 sharpened knives are vertically tied with upturned knife edge on two wooden poles. These wooden poles are called "the knife ladder". This is similar to the knife ladder of Miao nationality, but 12 knives less. When Tulaosi reaches the top, he will play some highly difficult movements.

The knife ladder climbing performance of Tujia minority is mysterious and breathtaking, and the stunts of Tulaosi are truly impressive and marvelous.

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