Checking in with the Li family Daoists (click here for a roundup—and do watch our film, if you haven’t already!):
In the same vein as Li Qing’s poem to the Eight Immortals (Literary wordplay), his grandson Li Bin has just sent me this image of a cute New Year’s duilian couplet that he spotted, pasted up at a gateway in Anjiazao village in Gucheng district, south of the Daoists’ base at Upper Liangyuan.
At least, it looks like a duilian, with upper (right) and lower (left) columns both apparently comprising seven characters. Actually it’s another of those series of composite characters, each one containing four characters within it. The deciphered text is a fairly standard auspicious New Year’s wish for prosperity, but the visual effect is striking. As you will soon discern, the motto at the top reads
The right-hand mottoes read
and to the left,
In a poor county where literacy levels were low right until the 1990s, I’m impressed by this creativity with the script.
Meanwhile, as the world lurches from one crisis to the next, Li Bin and the Yanggao Daoists are busy as ever providing ritual services to their local community. During the pandemic, while he couldn’t lead a ritual band for funerals, he was still in demand to determine the date, site the grave, supervise the encoffinment, and so on; and now that the initial alarm has receded in Yanggao, he again leads his band for the rituals culminating in the burial.