The DaShuHua Tree Flower Festival is a spectacular alternative to the traditional fireworks that marks the 15th and final day of the Chinese Lunar New Year festivities. It's all part of an ancient tradition in the town of NuanQuan (pop. 17,000), approximately four hours' drive west of Beijing.
With little more than a hat and a sheepskin coat for protection, a small team of farmers spoon molten hot metal from buckets before hurling it at a purpose-built brick wall. The rapidly cooling metal rains down in fountains of brightly glowing shards resulting in an impressive pyrotechnic display, which is locally called DaShuHua (beating the tree to produce flowers).
Molten Iron Throwing (Photo by: Pixel Creative Commons)
- The Poor Man's Fireworks
Around 300 years ago, there were many blacksmith shops in the farming town of NuanQuan. During Chinese New Year, it is a tradition to let off fireworks in an effort to scare off demons during the lantern festival. While the wealthy would buy fireworks, the blacksmiths and farmers couldn’t afford them. Inspired by the sparks emitted during their iron working, a group of brave blacksmiths one year decided to splash molten metal on the city walls, creating beautiful flower shapes from the cooling iron.
As the years passed, the locals came to prefer the DaShuHua to the fireworks, donating their scrap metals each year for the blacksmiths to use during the performance. By experimenting with different types of metal, the performers are now able to create a multi-colored array of flowers, improving on the original red. At first, only iron was used for the performance, but copper and aluminum have since been added to produce green and white flowers….