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Shaoxing Zhufu II

Zhufu is often held during the period between Dec. 24th and Dec. 28th, Chinese lunar calendar. Shaoxing people will firstly choose an auspicious day according to Chinese lunar calendar to hold the ceremony. It’s interesting that the days in between Dec. 20th and Dec. 30th in Chinese lunar calendar, are called nights instead of days in Shaoxing so as to remind the homemakers that the Spring Festival is approaching and they should hurry up to prepare for Zhufu and the Spring Festival. 

Before the sacrificing ceremony, Shaoxing people ought to clean up the hall, wash the sacred vessels, and kill fowls which will be offered as Fuli to the god. And they say dressing the fowls up instead of killing the fowls to avoid uttering the unlucky word: kill. The wooden sacrificing desks used in Zhufu, should be placed transversely in accordance with the grain. Usually two old Chinese square tables are enough. They are placed end to end close to the entrance door of the hall. And the main door of the house should be widely opened. Then the family members carry barrels or trays of cooked Fuli to the hall and put them on the desks one by one prescriptively. Commonly, Fuli consists of chicken, goose, and pork. But in wealthy families, it consists of chicken, goose, pork, beef and mutton. Fuli should be affixed with red paper cut into gold ingot or coins. And the chicken and goose should be cooked with their heads held high as if they are welcoming the god. The barrels or trays used to hold Fuli are often wooden and painted red. And a kitchen knife is placed beside Fuli as a table knife for the god. 

Afterwards, the officiant of the ceremony, usually the man of the house, lights up the incense and red candles, hang golden and silver Taiding made of paper on left and right candleholders, put the cushions for kneeling on the ground in order, and insert Mazhang Stick, which represents Nan Chao Sheng Zhong or Huang Shan Xi Nan, into the prepared holder. The females are not allowed to show up when performing the sacrifice. After all these are done, the male members of the family successively kneel down facing the main door and knock head to the god. At that moment there are many taboos. For example, the wine should not be poured out of the cup, and the chopsticks should not fall into the ground. One had better keep silent to avoid taboos. And that’s the end of worshipping.

After that, the officient pours wine for people present. They hold the wine cup high as quickly as possible to see the god out. Then the officiant burns Mazhang Stick together with golden and silver Taiding in the dooryard. He cuts tongues down from the chicken and goose, throw them up to the housetop, and pray to the god to take away the tongues which symbolize possible calamity out of mouth. Finally, the officiant put a cup of wine with tea on the ashes of Mazhang Stick and that means the end of Zhufu. After Zhufu is ancestor worshipping. It is similar to Zhufu, though difference does exist. After the worshipping, the family sits down at the tables and eats Fuli together, which is called Sanfu, namely sharing the blessings.

As a featured folk custom, Zhufu has been handed down and well protected in Shaoxing. It is reputable because of its special origin. It is widely spread by Lu Xun. Lu Xun wrote a novel Zhufu, which was named after the sacrificing ceremony. In Zhufu, there is detailed description of Shaoxing Zhufu. Deeply moved by the ill-fated leading character of the novel, the readers meanwhile get to know about Shaoxing Zhufu.





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