The King Pan Festival
The Pan in north Guangxi is a major branch of the Yao ethnic group who believe they are the descendants of the Yao King (also known as King Pangu). According to legend, Panwang (King Pan) was a hero of great courage and talent who performed meritorious deeds. After he married the princess, he took his wife to settle down at the foot of a mountain, where he hunted and farmed while she did the weaving. The couple raised six boys and six girls. One day, while hunting in the mountains, Pan was run down the mountain by an antelope and died in the accident. To remember their father, the children made a drum out of the antelope hide, which they beat sharply to express their anger and sorrow in their loss.
This legend is believed to be the origin of the King Pan Festival, held on the 16th day of the 10th lunar month, the day of Pan' birth. Despite its tragic origin, the festival is a holiday of great joy. In the Dayao Mountain area in Jinxiu Yao Autonomous County, festival celebrations begin the day before when a portrait of King Pan is hung in the memorial hall in each Yao village. Led by the head of the clan, the villagers offer sacrifices to the king and sing songs to recall his good deeds. The next morning, amidst deafening sounds of gongs and drums as well as firecrackers, people gather in the village square to sing and dance, extolling the virtues of King Pan and praying for protection and happiness. The most important is a dance accompanied by the yellow-mud drum, something evolved from the ancient antelope hide drum. The sounds of the drum and the graceful dance render the occasion with a sacred atmosphere.
Since the festival takes place after the autumn harvest, the Yao also regard the event as a celebration of bumper harvests. Consequently, every household partakes in the activities with joy and many also choose this occasion for weddings.