Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Rural Religion in Early China."
Click here for the introduction to "La Pensée Cyclique" the "umbrella topic for this series.
|[a] Reflected RF|
Now youth comes to the fore of the social order. No longer is the domestic order undifferentiated. We begin to see how it is broken down and the manner in which regeneration can come, not only from the enthusiasm of the younger members of the community, but also through their looser connection to the order itself. They are the tool by which the order will be rebuilt, renewed, and strengthened in the future. It is their very lack (and a relative lack it is) of commitment to the order that allows them to chant, cry, and compete in ways that are virtually impossible for those who are older. Again, we speak here not merely of “age” in the narrow and clichéd sense that we might think of it today. “Youth” here connotes social energy and connection with lively natural powers.
The contests produced this rejuvenation of the social pact because they
brought into confrontation the youngest forces in the community and
could be ended in the most intimate of communions. The ancient Festivals
were above all festivals of initiation, which brought into social intercourse
young people hitherto shut up in the hamlets of their families: betrothals
and marriages were there contracted to the benefit of the community and
under its control: they reduced the exclusiveness of local groups.
Ce rajeunissement du pacte social, les joutes l'obtenaient parce qu'elles
The competitions were highly sexual, and the rules that went along with them followed the structural lines of marriage. Energized youth forms the core, but it goes far beyond that core. They must be from different villages and must be potential sexual partners who have never seen one another. One imagines the energy and confusion wrapped into such competitions, and the manner in which such raucous chanting to the opposite sex might contribute to unions of a more permanent nature in the (very near) future.
|[c] Rhythm RF|
Granet speaks of the potency of such situations for individuals and groups. It is very interesting that he connects bursting into song with a recovery of primary forms of expression. That is one of the key ideas embedded in Granet’s analysis of spring festivals: they help human beings and human groups to regain their connection to the “natural” rhythms of the universe. One of those rhythms can be found in speech, and the creative merging of words (and sounds) into something profound.
We might not be able to imagine what their emotions were; they had such
potency that on each occasion the young people burst into poetry, recovering
the primary forms for the expression of feelings.
Nous ne pourrions imaginer ce qu'étaient leurs émotions ; elles avaient
une telle puissance qu'à chaque fois ils inventaient la poésie et
retrouvaient les formes premières de l'expression des sentiments.
|[d] Regulated RF|
When they faced one another in the contests in opposed lines their
rivalrous action was always regulated by rhythm; whatever the contest,
it had the appearance of a duel of dance and song. The challenges, brief
vocal images accompanied by mime, flew alternately from one band to
another, forming poetic couplets.
Lorsque, dans les tournois, ils s'affrontaient en lignes opposées, leur
action rivale était toujours rythmée ; quel que fût le concours, il avait
l'allure d'une joute de danses et de chants. D'une bande à l'autre, les défis
échangés alternaient et, brèves images vocales accompagnées d'une
mimique, s'appariaient en couples de vers.
Harper & Row, 1975.
|[e] Allure RF|