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Zhangjiajie Local Culture

Zhangjiajie Local Culture

Religion

The religion of the Tujia Minority is categorized by the King Tianshijue, Tima, and nature. For example, in the villages by the Tujia Minority, there are a lot of temples in Tuwang. In these temples, some heroes are worshipped here. Tima(Tulaosi) is a living immortal among people. It is said that he can expel evil spirits, treat and cure, relive worries and difficulties etc. Furthermore, they admire gnome, the God of Whole Grains, Kitchen God, Hunting God, the God of tree and so on. Some families and folk craftsmen are very faithful. People whose surname is Gong worship the ‘Zhugang Fairyland,’ while people in Yongding have a surname of Fu worship carps. People in Chongshan worship eels, business groups in Jiangxi Province worship frogs among other animals. It is believed that these animals have saved their ancestors. Tigers are recognized by the Tujia Minority people. As we can see that Huniu were unearthed in Yongding County, Cili County and other places in Zhangjiajie Province. Experts believe that the tiger is a symbol of the Tujia Minority.

Even though the Han Nationality has great influence on the Tujia Minority’s religion, the religions of Tujia Minority dominate the Tujia Minority religion. Religion among the Tujia Minority is not unitary. It is a religiously nationality. They have a superstitious belief in ghosts and spirits and adore their ancestors. The gods they respect can be divided into two categories. The first is an ancestor god, which has a short-range of ancestors and long-range ancestors. Short-range ancestors are forefathers who died recently, while long-range ancestors are earliest ancestors of a clan or national heroes. The short-range ancestors are mainly older people who passed away and kept them in a shrine with other ancestors. Every festival, wedding or funeral, the living offers sacrifices to their ancestors to show their devotion. The second category is the god of nature. The process of knowing and transforming nature, the Tujia Minority created many gods and showed their respect to the god of nature. There are the following gods: Meishan God, A Mi Ma Ma, White Tiger, Posongga( a god twinning round children) and so on.

Taboo

There are many taboos they are listed as followed:

Do not touch others on the head. It is forbidden to touch a Tujia Minority male’s head for any reason except by his own grandparents and parents. There’s a saying that you can only watch a boy’s head and a girl’s waist but you cannot touch them. It is believed that touching a male’s head degrades him. Even best friends should obey this or friendships will end.

When the solar eclipse or lunar eclipse appears, it is considered that a disaster may arise. Thus, people beat drums to avoid this.

A cawing crow indicates death or ill omen, and a chicken clucking in the midnight indicates fires and thieves.

Sneezes are forbidden, because it means that someone speaks ill of you or uses witchcraft on you.

If there’s clear water in your dream, you should clean your face with tears. If there are white clothes in your dream, you should be in mourning and if there are kids in your dream, you should be aware of thieves. Also, dreaming about chickens, birds and fishes indicates a fight will occur; dreaming about climbing mountain indicates that good things will happen; and dreaming about going downhill signals bad luck.

The number 36 is taboo. They think 36 is a kalpa. Things like 3 jin 6 liang, 3 yuan 6 jiao and 3 chi 6 cun are taboo. When recording numbers, it should start from 1 after 35. In one’s life, the 36th birthday is most scary. By that time, people wear red briefs or a red belt hoping to get rid of evil spirits. In the year of 36 years old, some people prepare a feast and invite relatives and friends to celebrate his birthday ahead of time. Guests are required to set off firecrackers in the house of owner in order to avoid evil spirits. During the feast, relatives and friends congratulate him for good luck.

Tujia language, rude epithets, vulgar words and impolite remarks are not allowed to use when communicating with the people. A junior must not call the name of a senior directly; people of the same generation should call each other with their surnames. It is forbidden to say ‘dai, wei’ between men and women as well as junior to senior. Loud and lengthy voice like oh is taboo. If someone is sick, you should not say words like ‘not tall, not growing, die, pass away and over’. If someone dies, it is always best to say ‘pass away’,‘go to west’, ‘gone’ or something like that instead of saying the word ‘die’. You’d should not mention words like ‘loss’ when talking to a business man. Men and women are prohibited to sit on a bench. In addition, a man cannot touch a woman’s waist. Spitting is impolite. Beards cannot be kept. Also, in weddings, words like ‘uncouple’ is taboo as well as talking about funeral. Otherwise, it’ll bring about calamity.

Travel taboos: The 7th and 9th of every month are inappropriate to go out and 8th is inappropriate to go home. When going out for day-to-day things or business, you should go out the next day if the first person you meet is a woman. However, if the first person you meet is a man and the second person is a woman, it is okay.

Animal taboos:

(1) Cawing at crows is taboo. In the morning if a crow caws on the roof, in front of you or on your head and flies and caws again after you drive it away, it is believed that it’s a bad omen. When people encounter this, they’ll stomp their foot and yell, ‘Shorten your own life!’ Then they spit to get rid of the bad luck.

(2) Chirping cuckoo is also taboo. In the spring, cuckoos start to chirp. People think that it is unlucky the first time you hear a cuckoo chirping when you are in the toilet. The way to block the evil spirit is for the person who heard the cuckoo (If he’s too young, his mother will do this instead) to pretend to be a beggar and go begging for 1-3 days. When he gets some rice, he should cook it in the wild where chickens and dogs are not there. Then he can block off the evil spirits. The Tujia Minority people even predict their fortune using a cuckoo’s voice. You’ll gain good fortune if you hear a cuckoo chirping when you are in bed. However, if you hear a cuckoo chirping for the first time when you are walking or working, it is a busy year for you.

(3) The third taboo is the hooting owls as they are believed to be evil birds since their voice is considered evil. It is said that someone in the village will die if they hear owls hoot.

(4) The fourth taboo deals with snakes. Seeing two snakes around each other is a taboo. It is said that a disaster would befall you if you see this. There are two ways to get rid of it. One is to put on pants you wear immediately then cover your head. The other is to shift the blame onto others. If you have company, you should call his name at once. If he responds to you, then the disaster will disappear. Or you can say something to defuse it.

(5) During festival, if a raccoon goes into a house, a chicken climbs a wealthy a tree and dog goes upstairs it is a bad omen.

Customs in Zhangjiajie

  • There are a lot of minorities in Zhangjiejie, so the customs vary.
  • Folk songs and dances in Zhangjiajie have special components with strong local influence. They are wonderful to watch and experience.
  • In the Tujia Minority, wedding customs are very interesting. In the Bai Minority, the traditional wedding rules are still popular.
  • The Tujia Minority’s type of martial arts is famous throughout the country. The hometown of Helong marshal, Hongjiaguan, Sangzhi County is well-known as the land of Martial arts. There, the local martial arts vary, which shows the characteristics of the Tujia Minority people and their strength.