Exorcism and Money: The Symbolic World of the Five-Fury Spirits in Late Imperial China

Exorcism and Money: The Symbolic World of the Five-Fury Spirits in Late Imperial China

Exorcism and Money: The Symbolic World of the Five-Fury Spirits in Late Imperial China

Exorcism and Money: The Symbolic World of the Five-Fury Spirits in Late Imperial China

Excerpt

In 1826, on the first day of the eighth month, a grand procession paraded from Xidi village to the county seat of Yixian and then back to Xidi, a distance of about eight kilometers. The procession was held to invoke the Wuchang Five-Fury Spirits and thereby protect the Hu lineage that resided in Xidi. The village of Xidi was a showcase of all Huizhou , a Jiangnan prefecture noted empirewide since the sixteenth century for both its intense gentrified lineage culture and its strong mercantile tradition. The man behind the procession rituals was Hu Yuanxi , a son of one of the “six wealthiest Jiangnan merchants,” who was living at home in Xidi at the time, perhaps on leave from his post as prefect of Hangzhou More than three hundred Wuchang supplicants participated in the Xidi parade; they were “all boys under the age of fifteen,” Hu proudly noted. “The procession went through the county seat, and the county magistrate let all into the Hall of Double Osmanthus, giving two buns to each of the participants, all the while highly commending everyone.”

The Wuchang procession was part of the preliminary ceremonies for a grand showing of ritual operatic performances scheduled for the following month. The ceremonies were organized by the prominent and wealthy Hu lineage to commemorate the compilation of the genealogy of the Xidi Hus, who numbered “nearly three thousand adult kinsmen,” as Hu Yuanxi’s father-in-law, Cao Zhenyong , a scholar-official at

1. Hu’s “Memorandum” to Xidi Mingjing Hushi renpai zupu (Genealogy of the Ren [ninth] branch Mingjing Hus in Xidi), in Daoguang wunian (last section, la-3b).

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