The (Chinese) questions and answers below are from the book "The Origins of Taiwanese Customs." The Chinese was written by Lin Mao-shian, and the English translation was written by me. 下列的中文問題跟答案來自於台灣民俗由來這本書. 這本書的作者是林茂賢先生. 我則是將他書中的部分內容翻譯成英文.
are chapters 17-24 from the "Folk Beliefs" section. Next month I'll
introduce sections 25-32. There are 32 chapters in all. 以下是 "民俗信仰"
第十七到第二十四章的部分. 下個月我要介紹第二十五到第三十二章的部分. "民俗信仰" 這個單元總共有三十二章.
17. Q: 為什麼廟裡會有乩童? Why do temples have a "Ji Tong?"1
A: 乩童是人與神明之間的溝通橋梁, 也是台灣民俗信仰中的重要角色, 民南語稱為 "童乩." 當人們心中有疑惑, 想要請神明指點迷津時, 乩童就會請神明附身在自己身上, 並傳達神明的指示, 過程稱為 "起乩;" 此外, 寺廟裡的神明出巡遶境時, 乩童也要在一旁協助. 乩童目前仍普遍存在於民間裡, 至於乩童是不是真的能和另一個世界溝通, 替人們解開疑惑, 就是個見仁見智的問題了. The "Ji Tong" activity serves as a bridge between people and the spirit world. It also plays an important role in Taiwanese folk beliefs. In Taiwanese it is called "Tong Ji."
When people are troubled and want the gods' guidance, they use the Ji Tong activity to invite the gods to inhabit their bodies, so that the gods' instructions can be made clear. The result is something2 called "Chi Ji."
When the temple gods emerge during the "Rao Jing" activity, the Ji Tong is performed at the same time. The Ji Tong was once a commonly seen activity, and there are many points of view as to whether the participants really communicate with another world. There are also many points of view as to whether this activity really helps people solve their problems.
18. Q: 去廟裡拜拜為什麼要擲筊? Why do we need to cast blocks3 when we visit the temple?
A: 當你向神明許願, 希望祂能夠指點迷津時, 要怎麼知道祂的想法呢? 答案就是 "擲筊." "筊" 是用木頭做成的, 為兩片半月形, 求神時, 信徒將筊握在手中, 默念問題後, 輕輕往地上一丟, 若是一正一反即為 "聖筊," 表示神明贊同你的做法; 如果是兩個正面, 稱為 "笑筊," 表示神明廳到你的想法笑了出來, 也就是不置可否; 如果是兩個反面的話, 當然就表示祂不贊同你所說的話囉! When you pray to the gods and ask for their guidance, how can you know what they are thinking? The answer to this question is "Jr Jiao" [casting blocks]. The "Jiao" [blocks] are made of wood and shaped like half moons. When believers pray, they hold the blocks in their hands, think about their problem, and gently throw the blocks to the floor. If one block is upright and the other is upside down, this is called "god blocks," and this means that the god approves of what you're doing. If both blocks are upright, this is called "laughing blocks," and it means that the god laughed out loud when he/she heard what you were thinking. The import of the "laughing blocks" is uncertain. If both blocks are upside down, of course it means that the god disapproves of what you've said!
19. Q: 為什麼進廟時不能踩門檻? Why can't we step on the threshold when we enter the temple?
A: 在中國的傳統建築習慣上, 門檻越高, 就代表房子的主人身分越高貴; 而用在寺廟建築時, 門檻越高, 就代表裡面所供奉的神位階越高. 古人相信, 萬物皆有神, 所以門檻上當然也會有神囉! 既然廟裡供奉的是大佛, 那麼門檻上的神地位也不會太低, 如果隨便踩上去的話, 就像是在跳戰神的權威一樣, 非常不禮貌. 因此下次跟著家人到廟裡拜拜時, 要記得跨過門檻, 才不會對神不敬喔! In traditional Chinese architecture, the threshold of every building is built very high, to indicate that the person inhabiting the house [or building] is of very noble status. When this building technique is used in a temple, it indicates the exalted status of the gods that inhabit that temple. In ancient times they believed that spirits were everywhere, so that the threshold also had its own spirit. If the temple was consecrated to the Buddha, then the status of the god which inhabited the threshold could not be too low. If one carelessly steps upon this threshold, it's as if you are contesting the god's status, and this is very bad manners. With this in mind, remember not to step on the threshold next time you visit the temple to pray with your family. Otherwise you'll be disrespecting a god!4
20. Q: 為什麼拜拜多用 "三牲?" Why do we make "the three offerings" during worship?
A: 台灣人在祭拜神明時多半會準備三牲, 三牲就是指三種牲禮, 一般都會有豬和雞, 第三樣則是鴨或魚. 以前的人生活較勤儉, 很少有機會吃肉, 只有像過年過節這種大日子, 才有機會能吃上幾口肉, 因此大家會把難得買來的肉, 在拜拜時獻給神明, 以表示民間對神明的最高敬意. 此外, 儘管現在環保意識高漲, 很多人都開始吃素, 但還是不能用蔬果取代三牲, 認為那樣顯得誠意不足. People in Taiwan make the three offerings when they worship their gods. The term "three offerings" refers to three types of offering. The two most commonly seen offerings are pork and chicken, with a third offering being duck or fish. People led very thrifty lives before, and seldom had the opportunity to eat meat. It was only on holidays like Chinese New Year that they had the chance to consume a few mouthfuls of meat, and for this reason they offered this difficult to obtain food to the gods, as a sign of their reverence. Aside from this, and as environmental awareness has increased, many people are choosing to become vegetarians. It should be noted, however, that it's not permitted to substitute fruits and vegetables for the three offerings. Those who do so will appear [to the gods] to lack sincerity.
21. Q: 為什麼廟門前要放兩尊石獅子? Why are there guardian lions in front of temples?
A: 民間的廟宇及關府前, 通常會擺放兩尊石獅子, 不過中國並沒有獅子這種動物, 為什麼會刻出石獅子呢? 據說在東漢時期, 西域的安息國王將一隻獅子獻給皇帝, 由於人們都沒見過這種動物, 於是把牠當成和龍, 麒麟等傳說中的吉祥野獸一樣神聖, 認為牠能帶來好運, 是吉祥, 平安的象徵. 逐漸的, 獅子成為看守門的吉祥物, 許多寺廟和老式建築, 都會在門前放兩尊雕刻精美的石獅子. It is common for people to place two guardian lions in front of temples, but lions cannot be found in China. Why carve such animals? It is said that during the Eastern Han An-shi, king of the western region, gave a lion as an offering to the emperor. At that time no one had ever seen this kind of animal, and viewed it as one would view dragons, qilins [kirins], or other mythological animals. They thought that it could bring good fortune, and was an auspicious symbol. Lions slowly became spirits that guarded over doorways, and afterward many temples and other old buildings began to place two beautifully carved guardian lions before their entrances.
22. Q: 為什麼廟宇的調像要扛屋角柱? Why are there statues holding up the roofs of temples?
A: 在民間的廟宇中, 會發現一些扛著屋角柱或廟角的雕像, 而且這些雕像的外型幾乎都是濃眉大眼的外國人, 稱為 "憨番扛厝角." 憨番塑像的由來很多, 較普遍的說法是, 從前外國人統治台灣時, 對台灣人非常苛刻, 台灣人為了報復他們, 就在蓋廟的時候, 故意將雕像做成外國人的樣子, 要他們幫我們扛廟. 如今這些扛著沉重屋角的憨番, 已成為台灣部分廟宇的最大特色了. In traditional temples you'll see several statues in the corners, holding up the roof. These bushy-eyebrowed, big-eyed, foreign-looking statues are called "Han Fan House Carriers." There are many reasons why the "Han Fan" look as they do, but the most common explanation is that when foreigners ruled Taiwan, they were very unforgiving, and as a way of getting back at them the Taiwanese decided to make the load-bearing statues in their temples look like foreigners - forcing these "foreigners" to hold up the roof. These overburdened Han Fan have since become one of the most distinctive traits of Taiwanese temples.5
23. Q: 為什麼祭孔大典後要拔智慧毛? Why do people pull "hairs of wisdom" following the big Confucian ceremony?
A: 每年的九月二十八日是教師節, 當天許多地區都會舉辦祭孔大典, 典禮結束後, 就是民眾最期待的 "拔智慧毛" 活動. 傳統上, 智慧毛是祭孔牛隻身上的毛, 若能成功拔得, 就可傳承孔子智慧, 讓學生考試順利, 成績進步. 不過由於智慧毛有限, 而且容易造成民眾爭搶, 所以某些地方就以年型雕刻取代真的牛隻, 並讓民眾拔取棒棒糖, 毛筆或領智慧糕, 同樣有象徵智慧增長的意義. Teacher's Day falls on September 28 every year, and on that day many places host a big ceremony in honor of Confucius. After the ceremony is concluded, everyone looks forward to the "plucking the hairs of wisdom" activity. According to tradition, the "hairs of wisdom" grow upon a cow sacred to Confucius, and if you pluck one of them you will receive his wisdom. Students [who pluck these hairs] will also do well on tests and improve their scores. But because the number of these hairs is limited, and because people tend to fight over them, in some places they substitute a sculpture (or carving) for a real cow, and people will pluck lollipops, brushes, or "wisdom cakes" from the sculpture. These can also serve as symbols of wisdom.
24. Q: 為什麼祭孔大典要跳八佾舞? Why do people dance the "Ba Yi" dance during the big Confucian ceremony?
A: "佾" 是行列單位, "佾舞" 是指行列整齊的祭祀舞蹈. 古時候, 人民會跳佾舞來祭拜過世的帝王及諸侯, 佾舞人數則依照功績做變化. "六佾" 為六行六列, 共有三十六人, 可用來祭拜諸侯; 而 "八佾" 為八行八列, 共六十四人, 是最崇高的等級, 只有天子才能享用. 但不管時代如何變遷, 孔子一直是大家所尊崇的精神領袖, 當然有資格享用八佾, 因此八佾舞也成為紀念孔子的專屬舞蹈了. "Yi" is a row or unit. The "Yi Dance" refers to a type of ritual dance. In ancient times, people would perform the Yi Dance in honor of dead kings and princes. The number of dancers varied in accordance with the merits of the person being honored. The "Six Yi" employed six rows and six columns, or 36 people altogether. It was performed in honor of princes. The "Eight Yi" employed eight rows and eight columns, or 64 people altogether. This is/was the most exalted dance, and could only be performed for the Emperor. But times change, and Confucius remains a respected and revered spiritual leader, so of course he deserves the Eight Yi. For this reason the Eight Yi has become a memorial dance closely associated with Confucius.
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台灣民俗由來 The Origin of Taiwanese Customs (2 of 4)
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台灣民俗由來 The Origin of Taiwanese Customs (1 of 4)
1. It's not mentioned in the book, but this is the same activity in which the participants cut and pierce themselves. It can get very bloody.
2. Not sure if this "Chi Ji" refers to the spiritual possession itself or to the act of interpreting the god's message.
3. There's no good way to translate 擲筊 or "Jr Jiao" into English. I've chosen to translate it as "casting blocks."
4. Gotta love this wanton mixing of Buddhism and more traditional Chinese beliefs. I don't think most templegoers would even see this as a conflict of religious ideologies.
5. I was unable to find any of these statues in Taitung (where I live). I think you'd be more likely to find them in places like Tainan or Beigang 北港, which have a longer history of settlement by Chinese people.