The intrepid explorations of Hannibal Taubes continue to bear fruit.
Apart from his amazing images of village temple murals around Hebei and Shanxi, he has recently found these helpful Chinglish translations at the Chongfu si temple in Shuozhou county—which, incidentally, is one of the most fruitful sites for household Daoist ritual in north Shanxi.
Here’s the Amitābha hall (Mituo dian), arcanely rendered as “Indemnity Tuo Temple” (“I’m like, WTF?”)—blowing plastic and threat paternity (has clearly experienced vicissitudes of life):
It’s also gratifying to learn that between 1987 and 1991 the country allocate huge funds to a landing gear overhaul—presumably to help the deities descend after riding the clouds 駕雲 (for their earlier modes of transport, see here).
And a fine interpretation of the deity Jin’gang (Vajracchedikā) in his local reincarnation as King Kong:*
The four kings are cool, but I have no idea where the “three with disabilities” came from.
Hats off to this budding comedian on the local temple circuit.
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More disturbingly, here’s a poster advertising state intrusion in an inauguration ritual at the newly refurbished Sanhuang miao temple in nearby Hunyuan county:
I’d like to know which Daoist group took part (that of Jiao Lizhong, I surmise), and what ritual segments they performed—unsurprisingly, details not found on the poster.
Anyway, as Hannibal notes, with the core of the event formed by not one, not two, but three speeches from the leadership, I think we can all agree that under the resolute guidance of Uncle Xi‘s New Epoch Socialist Thought, Daoist ritual will certainly attain a high level of development. Now that’s what I call ritual redundancy. Whoever said chanting scriptures was boring?
While Party involvement in the rituals of larger official temples is common, such encroachment into local ritual practice is (so far) rare; but as usual, everyone is probably just going through the motions—like under Maoism, when the bard might perform a token new section before the traditional story that peasants actually wanted. Keep calm and carry on.
*I heard a story that since the Danish for “king” is kong, King Kong was translated as Kong King, but disappointingly it turns out to be apocryphal.
With thanks to Hannibal