Great folk custom: Dragon dancing to celebrate Dragon mother’s birthday in Longtan, Xintan
2014-09-19 [ Print ] [ Close ]

First stop: Wulong Temple/Xiao Tong Hall:

The famous "Water Village Festival"

directions Drive toward Junan along Xinlong Road and enter the Erhuan Road, then turn right to Longtan, finally turn left at Longgu Road, on the right is Wulong Temple and Xiao Tong Hall.

The eighth day of lunar May is thought to be the birthday of the legendary dragon mother. At this time of the year, in Shunde’s Longtan village sound of music and drumbeats is everywhere with folk custom tour on the riverbank and dragon boat racing in the river. More attractively, Wulong Temple/Xiao Tong Hall is filled up with burning joss sticks and candles. Tourists from all directions gather here to experience the lively atmosphere and enjoy a cultural feast, blessing for good health and prosperity at the same time.

"The legend"

Why is the celebration so great: Here is a story ..

It is said that the empress dragon mother, who used to live in the upper riverbank of the Xi’jiang river in Yuecheng Temple. One day curiously floated down the river by narrowing down her body and jumped onto a piece of wood. She fell asleep on the way, and the wood floated all the way to Longtan village. A villager and fisherman called Chen Degong made many wishes to the wood, hoping for more shrimps and fish. Luckily she heard his wishes and brought all of them into reality. On that very night, he knelt down before the wood praying for long. Later the empress told him through his dreams that she had fallen in love with the good environment here, and expected him to build a temple for her. The due date for the completion should be before her birthday of May 8 the lunar year.

Accordingly and obediently Chen Degong had this hall built before her birthday. Indeed it was, as expected , a magnificent dragonmother temple. The entrance of a temple hung couplets "focus on broad teaching, and cultivate a meek civilization" with a horizontal scroll which read "the Kaotong Temple". On the temple ridge was modeled “double dragons playing with the pearl”; the wall was covered with groups of grey characters, birds, animals and landscape pictures as well, all of which were exquisite lifelike.  The wood carving techniques embodied in the beams and spirit tablets were also consummate and glittering. In the center of the temple sits the empress dragon mother with Buddha’s four king kongs (warriors) standing around. On either side of the temple lies an attached hall: one is Wulong Hall, the other is the Empress Hall. In the back stands the dressing floor for the empress.

Upon the night of completion of the temple Chen Degong again dreamed of dragon mother saying that on May 8 she was bound to come. The following day he asked one of his fellow villagers to write many sacred notes and had them posted everywhere. He wanted to inform all the villagers that May 8 is the empress’ birthday, will and she would come to deliver her blessings to all who would like to accept. On May 8, dragon boats from nearby villages came to celebrate her birthday. The newly- built dragon boats also had the ceremony of “adding the finishing touch” on this ocassion. The practice has been carried over till today

The second stop: Hexin pawnshop

The best protected pawnshop in Shunde

 [directions] Go back along Gulong Road, then exit to Longxin Road outside the residents' committee. The pawnshop is on the right of the road.

 

Hexin pawnshop was d built in the late Ming and early   Qing dynasties. It was the biggest shop of its kind in Shunde and is the best preserved one till the present day. The five-storeyed building is located inside the Longtan residents' committee, 24.5 meters high with a flat roof. The wall is made of grey bricks with a red sandstone wall of 3.6 meters high. Two huge internal brick columns rise up to the roof with granite at regular spaces. On the columns were floors of wood. The outer wall and internal structure is complete, and a stone tablet stands aside with the inscription as follows: "This is to certify that inside the fence the field, which this pawnshop owner Yang Manfa purchased and owned, is one zhang and seven chi from south to north; one zhang and one chi from east to west .

In many of the financial industries, pawnshops, gold and silver stores, banks have been effectively promoting the development of Shunde’s economy, and pawnshops, as one of the oldest economic sectors, play a common yet indispensable role in the modern market economy in Shunde.

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