Zhongyuan Tower Celebrates the Chinese New Year with Tiehua, a Thousand-year Heritage of Simulated Display of Fireworks


What happens when hard irons become radiant fireworks? Do performers feel afraid of exposure to burning hot iron drops? How do they feel? What are the unique features of the Guo’s tiehua? To find answers for these questions, I visited the Guo’s Tiehua Performance Team from Zezhou County, Jincheng City, Shanxi Province which was performing at Zhongyuan Tower.
The team’s debut at Zhongyuan Tower was a sensation. And it was the first time for me to appreciate this magnificent art in person. Before that, I only heard about it. And what I learned online further made me longing for the show. 
       After five o’clock in the evening of the ninth day of this first lunar month, fire was made in 36 stoves in the company of vigorous and dynamic music. Under the influence of air blowers, the fire began to burn strongly, casting light on performers’ faces. At 6:30, a ten-second countdown initiated the show. With a paddle-like board in hand, about 20 performers swiftly hit iron water thrown out in a spoon by their partners on the opposite. After the powerful hit, iron water broke up into balls with a diameter of about 3 meters in a radiant shape similar to fireworks. In tacit cooperation, nearly 50 performers jointly created gorgeous fireworks which received viewers’ heartfelt cheers and applauses. 
The Guo’s Tiehua Performance Team comes from Shagou Village, Chuandi Township, Zezhou County, Jincheng City, Shanxi Province. The team’s business contact is Chen Liqiang whose mother was born to the Guo family. The five major performers are his uncles. 
       The eldest uncle is Guo Xiaotang, the eldest son of today’s Guo family. He has four brothers and three sisters. According to Guo Xiaotang, his late father Guo Xishan was the fourth generation successor of this craft. His father further passed down this art to him and other four brothers. Today, Guo Xiaotang’s son Guo Bobo and nephew Chen Liqiang have already acquired this craft. We can say this craft has been passed down to six generations so far. 
       According to Guo Xiaotang, some of his cousins are also Tiehua performers. Currently, his team has more than 100 members including those who work on miscellaneous affairs. There are three subteams and each of them performs at different places. In fact, it usually takes them several months to get ready for a performance event since there are many preparatory things to do and the market is increasingly expanding. 
      As early as the 1960s, Guo Xishan started to perform at weddings and funerals. To some extent, that was the very precedent of the team’s commercial performance today. 
There are different versions for the origin of the Datiehua practice. One version says that Tiehua has a long history of a thousand years, originating in the Northern Song Dynasty and thriving in the Ming and Qing dynasties. 
      Datiehua is an authentic folk art precedent to fireworks. The Guo’s team maintains primitive ways of performance. Their props are simple but their performance is quite impressive and passionate. Burning hot iron water was sprayed to produce a spectacular array of fiery sparks and patterns. Amid cheers and applauses, I felt that the Guo’s team is indeed worth its reputation.


Copyright by Zhengzhou Municipal Tourism Administration