Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Nanny’s Star Walk (奶娘催罡)

Nanny Chen's star walk ritual is in progress.

“The Nany’s Star Walk” is a type of religious dance of eastern Fujian She tribe (畲族). Basically this is a shaman dance to expel evil spirits before the beginning of worship ceremonies. There are three sections to this dance:

·         Purification of altar (净坛):
o   Meaning to expel unwanted spiritual obstacles before the conjuration of gods and goddesses.
·         Invitation of goddess Chen (请神):
o   The main goddess is the Nanny Chen Jing Gu (陈靖姑) or just Nanny Chen in short.
·         Actual walk (踩罡):
o   There are 11 types of walk that represent the daily activities of a lady. Originally these steps can only be performed by men.

Basically the purpose to evoke Nanny Chan is to protect kids from being harmed by evil spirits and also to chase them away. Taoist of old has found that chanting coupled with star walk can unite a human with the gods and goddesses. For example the performer’s first walk is the “eight steps” (八步罡), the performer would hold a master’s knife (铃刀) in his left hand and an antelope horn (羚号) in his right. The person would perform the dance while chanting the below opening mantra:


The grand master is performing the star steps, 
this master is performing the steps,
My left foot steps at the heavenly gate, while my left foot into hell,
Now I shall storm until everyone lives forever and the ghosts die.
When my left foot storms the mountain, the mountain breaks;
When my right foot storms onto rocks, the rocks become soup.
I perform star steps in front of Lushan Cave;
I perform steps into the Lushan temple.)

After the opening mantra, and blowing of horns; the performer would continue with following 11 types of star walk:

1.      The eight steps (八步罡)
2.      The lock and chain steps (锁链罡)
3.      The lost sow steps (失亥罡)
4.      The recovery of health steps (养身罡)
5.      The combing of hair steps (梳头罡)
6.      The entangle steps (扣缠罡)
7.      The washing of face steps (洗面罡)
8.      The looking into mirror steps (照镜罡)
9.      The getting rice from cage steps (笼米罡)
10.  The sieving rice steps (筛米罡)
11.  The fishing steps (钓鱼罡)

The steps are very simple as a performer only need to make one leg jump from left to right. Star walk 1~3 evoke the power of Nanny Chen to chase against evil spirits, bind them and deliver the spirits to the other side. Walk 4 is to heal a person tormented by spirits. Steps 5~8 purifies a place (village) for further ritual proceedings. Finally, steps 9~11 meant to seek out further spirits in hiding and catch them all.

If we further scrutinize the content of the above ritual, we would find that it falls under the curriculum of Lushan (闾山) Sect. Lushan rituals are still in practice by people in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

I have to apologize for not describing the ritual in detail as it is a complicate process.

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