Archives for posts with tag: ancestor

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W360xD190XH360mm, China

This fine lacquered cabinet was a household shrine for worshiping the ancestors in the Chaozhou area.  Ancestral tablets would be kept inside of the cabinets, with the higher ranking ancestor on the upper stage and the others on the lower level.  The decoration of the exterior of the doors are blessing figures of warriors and top scholars (zhuang yuan) while in the interior are scholarly plants, all a blessing for the descendants of the family.

The ancestral tablets are made of word with the name of the ancestor.  The legend goes like this; a long time ago there lived a poor widow and her son.  The son was a brute, abusive to the mother verbally and sometimes even physically, but the mother took care of him all the same.  One day, while the son was collecting logs in the mountain he saw a mother bird busy looking for food to feed her young, so tired is the bird that she collapsed in the nest after feeding the nestling.  Seeing this the young man realized he had been wrong of how he had treated his mother and felt terrible.  Right about the same time, his mother arrived with his lunch, the young man hurried to greet his mother.  Not knowing his intention, the mother told she would get another beating, she put down the food and started to run down the hill.  The son yelled behind her and the mother hurried, tripped, hit a tree and died.  Unable to tell his mother how sorry he had been, he took a piece of the tree, wrote on it his mother’s name and worship it on her birthday.  The character of the son changed and became a very successful man and the idea of ancestral tablets were adopted by others.

worship cabinet

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W40xD50xH130mm, Macau

This is an old figurine worshiped by the fisherman on the junk boats of Hong Kong, it is one of the ancestral saints – Crane Riding Mother Saint, a figurine representing the female ancestors.  It is believe that ancestors would protect the fisherman at sea.  In Taoism, the Taoist saints be believe to travel around by riding a crane.

See our other entry of the Junk Boat Gods;
Tanka Wooden Effigy, Junk Boat God (god?), Junk Boat God

W50xD40xH120mm, Macau

We have posted this form of wooden figurine (Junk Boat God, Junk Boat God, god?) twice already in the blog, but this time with a new understanding.  Last week I was at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum visiting the Picasso Exhibition (Masterpieces from Musée National Picasso, Paris), if you are visiting Hong Kong try to prebook a ticket to see, its well worth the trip.  Now I have got you all excited, well, the effigy has nothing to do with Picasso, I found similar  figurines in the local history section of the museum and here is the describsion;

“Wooden Effigies – People who lived on land worshipped wooden tablets with the names of their ancestors written on them.  Fishermen worshiped wooden effigies instead.  the appearances of the effigies vary according to the status and sex of the deceased.  The usual practice was for a family to hire a spirit medium to conduct a ceremony, and sculpt a wooden effigy of the deceased according to her instuction.  As time passed and fishing families became better educated, wooden effigies were replaced by wooden tablets.”

If this is correct, I wonder if the person this effigy is made for had an ambition to become a concert conductor.  The explanation from the museum is quite different from the one told me by the old Tanka gentlemen in the Tai O fishing village (see Junk Boat God, god?).  Would a Tanka person help me to clarify this?