Wang Gong wuz here ’15 尪公進天公繞境

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Saw this torn poster around the Wanhua district while out to lunch. It’s a path marker left by a parade to welcome the Gods of Loyalty (尪公) into the Palace of Heaven. The gods of loyalty were two Tang dynasty generals Zhang Xun (張巡) and Xu Yuan (許遠) who were honored by Emperor Suzong (唐肅宗) posthumously for their loyalty in dying defending the Tang dynasty during the Battle of Suiyang against Yan troops. Interestingly, this was quite controversial as they are said to have encouraged cannibalism during the battle.

「尪公」 or Gods of Loyalty is a common way to refer to the 「保義大夫」 or “senior officials upholding justice,” which you can see written at the center of the torn poster.

I found a helpful description of the events (and other events) in Taiwanese folk religion at this site. Here’s the description of the 迎尪公 (Welcoming the Gods of Loyalty) parade:

十二日為保義大夫祭典。尪公,即保義大夫俗稱。據傳,保義大夫為驅除田園害蟲之神,俗信其神輿過處,附近害蟲將盡死滅,因此,迎神輿須通過田中畦道。保義大夫之神輿極小,僅以兩人抬扛。祭典當日,住戶例均供祭牲禮,並供五味碗,犒賞其部下神兵,遊行隊伍,均甚壯大。

The tweflth day [of the fifth lunar month] is the ceremony of the senior officials upholding justice. Wang Gong is the colloquial name for the “senior officials upholding justice.” Apparently the “senior officials upholding justice” can help to get rid of pests in farmland and people believe that wherever the palanquin of the gods passes will lead to the death and destruction of pests and insects in neighboring land, so the palanquin has to pass through the paths around fields. The palanquin of the senior officials upholding justice is quite small and is carried by only two people. On the day of the ceremony, offerings are made by local residents, offering a variety of sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and salty dishes to reward the celestial troops and give strength to those taking part in the parade.

Not sure why it is torn – if this is tradition or someone concerned that the extremely dirty reflector on the traffic light pole was being blocked from sight

Nothing like a bit of Budaixi after a hard day at work in Wanhua 萬華街頭布袋戲

budaixiThere was a big celebration going on in in Wanhua (萬華) on Saturday, with people from the local temples dressed up as gods (some of which were eating bento boxes and others sneaking a quick pee in alleys, but well-behaved all in all). As I was cycling home, I saw this Budaixi truck, playing to no one, so I stopped to have a lookey-loo and as no experience is complete without being filtered through the ‘me-machine’ (a description of smartphones in Joshua Ferris’ new book To Rise Again at a Decent Hour – a promising book that didn’t really seem to come to a satisfactory end), I filmed a bit of it. This kind of thing offers a great opportunity to study a bit of Taiwanese, although I’m not sure how useful the vocab is. Below the video is a transcript courtesy of a Pingtung friend, the “x”s mark the bits that even he couldn’t understand. Anyone with a better ear for Taiwanese welcome to comment below to fill in the gaps:

XXX的信使,到現在一點消息都沒有,我的女兒XXX,女兒不見只好對付(fight)大宋(Song Dynasty 960-1279)官兵,來去(出發)啊~~~ (015~025音樂)

Vocabulary:

使差 or 使俠? (This one isn’t clear but the meaning is 信使 or messenger) it sounds like  kiap or gia̍p, but can’t be sure. Any help in the comments below would be appreciated. Continue reading