- The ‘cow hanging ceremony’ is supposed to bring a bumper harvest
- It has been carried out by the Dong people of China for about 400 years
- Bull is decorated with flowers before being hoisted up and left to die
Chinese villagers have defended their tradition of hanging a live bull from a tree until it dies as part of a ritual to bring them luck and a bumper harvest.
The ‘cow-hanging ceremony’ has been carried out by the minority Dong people of southern China for almost 500 years and now attracts hundreds of tourists.
The tradition in Baojiang village, Guangxi Zhuang region, is supposed to bring good weather and a full harvest, as well as peace and prosperity.
Residents parade the bull around the area, where it supposedly collects bad luck.
They then choose a ceremonial tree in the village, from which to hang the animal, and decorate it with red flowers before it is killed.
Residents in Baojiang village, Rongshui, Guangxi, have denied the spectacle is cruel, and are refusing to give it up, especially as it is growing into a popular tourist attraction.
Lu Hung, who lives in the village, said the killing of the bull is part of their traditions.
He said: ‘We also hang cows also to warn those people who don’t behave themselves. [This] used to be the threat of what will happen to them.’
The ceremony has been held annually for 470 years on June 2 of the traditional Chinese calendar and traditionally acts as a warning to villagers to abide by local rules.
Once the animal is decorated and tied with the rope, the strongest villagers haul the terrified and struggling bull into the air where it eventually dies in front of families and young children.
The noose is sometimes looped over the animal’s leg so it stays alive for longer for the hundreds of people who turn up to watch.
Villagers who watch the struggles will be blessed by the gods, according to tradition.
There are about three million ethnic Dong people in China and they have a distinct language and festivals from the rest of the country.
Many of their rituals are aimed at appeasing their gods and animals, usually chickens, are offered as a sacrifice.
The chickens are attached to ‘sacred trees’ until they die.