Nuo rituals

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Shinto oniyarai practiced at the Heian Shrine.

Nuo rituals or Nuo cults (傩文化), where nuo (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ) means "exorcism" ("binding by oath"), define ritual practices found in some local forms of the Chinese folk religion, as well as in Shinto (Japanese: 追儺 oniyarai, tsuina) and in Sinism (Korean: 나례 nalye). It is especially important in the Chinese folk religion of the Tujia people and other ethnic groups of China.

Nuo rituals revolve around the worship of gods represented by characteristic wooden masks and idols; these gods include ancestors and tutelary gods of nature. Nuo rituals and elaborate dramas are mostly performed by circles of fashi (non-Taoist ritual masters),[1] wearing the masks of the gods.

Scholars have observed how the status of Nuo ritualism in China has changed from an unrecognised and hindered culture before the 1980s, to an officially endorsed folk religion nowadays.[2] The revival of Nuo ritualism has been developed by the Chinese government as a matrix of ethnic identification of the Tujia nation.[3]

The concept of the ancient Chinese event nuo was imported to Japan, and the event developed and finally became an annual event in the Imperial Court in the early Heian period. On New Year's Eve (December 30 according to the old calendar) every year in the Imperial Court, this ceremony of "onibarai" or "tsuina (追儺 )" (to expel ogres) has been held for about 1200 years since the early Heian period. You can see the similar ceremony "Dainanogi" in the Heian Jingu shrine.[4] It is said that a ritual of purification to exorcise oni (ogres) or evil spirits held on the setsubun day originally came from this "tsuina" (a year-end ceremony to drive away ogres), which had been observed since around the Heian period.


Nuo ceremonies (傩仪/儺儀) for the gods include Nuo dances (傩舞/儺舞), Nuo songs (傩歌/儺歌), Nuo sacrifices (傩祭) and the Nuo opera (傩戏/儺戲).

See also


  1. Van der Meij, 1997. p. 478b[full citation needed]
  2. Lan Li, 2010.
  3. Lan Li, 2003.
  4. 平安神宮節分「大儺之儀」


  • Lan Li. Nuo (傩): The New Role of Popular Religion in Modern Chinese Politics. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited. 2012.
  • Lan Li. The Changing Role of the Popular Religion of Nuo (傩) in Modern Chinese Politics. Modern Asian Studies (Impact Factor: 0.36). 01/2010; 44(02):1-23. DOI:10.1017/S0026749X10000090
  • Lan Li. The Reinvention of the Nuo Religion of the Tujia's Ethnic Identity and Identification. Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2003.
  • Lan Li (2008). Reinvention of the Belief - An Anthropological Study of the Chinese Popular Religion of Nuo. Kunming: Yunnan People’s Publisher.
  • Lan Li (2009). Who Controls the Fate of An ICH – A Case Study of Nuo (儺) in Southwest China, in Ségio Lira, Rogério Amoê, Cristina Prinheiro & Fernando Oliveira (ed.), Sharing Culture 2009, Barcelos: Green Lines Instituto para o Desenvolvimento Sustentâvel.
  • Lan Li. Popular Religion in Modern China: The New Role of Nuo. Ashgate, 2015. ISBN 1409436780
  • Dick van der Meij. India and Beyond. Routledge, 1997. ISBN 0710306024[full citation needed]

External links