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Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Xiangxi 1: Walking Dead (湘西趕屍)
A Taoist is leading a procession of corpses!
in fact the western part of Hunan Province, an area mainly along the upstream
of Yuanjiang, mostly referring to Yuanling, Luxi, Chenxi and Pu a total of four
areas. These areas are covered by mountain ranges, it if someone dies in this
area; then it is really inconvenient to transport the body through the rugged
mountain ranges. Traditional Chinese have a very strong sense of provincialism,
so one must die in his or her homeland. The problem is that in ancient time,
there was no such thing as a refrigerator nor fast modes of transport, in order
to repatriate a corpse on a long journey without decay, people at that time can
only rely on the service of "Xiangxi Walking Dead".
to ancient legends, the Hmong ancestor Appleton Chi led his army to war on the
Yellow River bank, and when he wanted to retreat; he did not want to leave his
soldiers killed in action around. So the military counselor of Appleton Chi suggested
that the two of them swapped dress. Appleton Chi to carry talismans and lead
the way, while his military counselor followed Appleton Chi at the back
performing incantation. Consequently the dead soldiers stood up by themselves
and follow closely behind. At that time the enemies are already closing, so the
military counselor casted another spell to draw down thick fog at dawn to blind
the enemies. Due to the fact that the military counselor is the one who
performed magic ritual, people called him “the old master”. This title was
adopted ever since.
who lead these walking dead would not send the corpses directly to their home.
They can only transport the corpses from hill area to the plain; the relatives
of the deceased will have to take over the job by putting the corpse into a
coffin and continue the journey with other means of transportation. The service
boundary only to Changde towards the north, cannot cross the Dongting Lake; the
farthest towards east is to Jingzhou, whereas to Fu and Wu states towards the
west. Finally, the farthest towards southwest extends to Yunnan and Guizhou.
Legend has it that the above regions are controlled by the ancestral spirits of
Hmong; their magic cannot cross these boundaries.
Not all of
the corpses can be transported by the “walking dead” method. According to old
legends, there are three yes and three nays of transporting a corpse by walking
dead method. A dead row even though after beheading, needs only to sew back the
head; those died from strangulation or died in station case will also be
acceptable. However, death by disease, hanging or lighting strike causing an incomplete
corpse will not be taken.