The Zai in Ryukyu dances (Ryūkyū Buyō)

In Ryūkyū dances (Ryūkyū Buyō) there is a dance called Zai (麾; ぜい). It is categorized as a Nisai-odori, performed by two udui-dī (dancers). The Zai originally was a bâton de commandement for giving signals of command to an army. In the Ryūkyū dances it is said to have been used in a quite contrary sense: as an auspicious stage equipment to celebrate the times of peace.

The first half of the dance is a “dance of gestures” (tī-udui 手踊り) based on the Kata of Karate. In the latter part, with waving and swinging the Zai, the dance is full of tensed atmosphere with footwork in heroic activity.

The Zai, a Ryukyu dance. he Zai was also noted as one intrument in a martial arts stage performance in the early 20th century.

The Zai, a Ryukyu dance. he Zai was also noted as one intrument in a martial arts stage performance in the early 20th century.

© 2015, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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