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Fisherman Customs of Zhejiang Water Village


White walls and black tile, water flowing beneath the little bridge, old streets and deep lanes, folk custom simplicity, that is the water village of Zhejiang.

People here are simplicity and lovable. In the morning, Fishermen navigate boats to shovel fish. If they want to switch back, they can’t go back immediately but must turn another way, which means, ”The good never go back.” If the first fish caught are carp, it is a sign of the harvest. But if a white turtle is caught, it is regarded as a bad omen. Fish with spots on the head means the last few days of business, tail spotted means business will come soon, spotted fish means the middle of the business season.

In the lunar December 24, fishermen place offerings before the pot cooking stove and burn incense to thank the God of Kitchen. The legend says fish are in charge of the God of Kitchen so the fish base opens to fishermen each year on this night. A black live fish will be set free after the ceremony and the direction it goes will be seen as the direction of the first sail for fishing. On the first day, fishermen light fire crackers and burn incense on the bow. We may think such fussy and complicated taboos are not worth doing, but that is the custom, which has been passed down from generation to generation.


There is also a trade on the waterfront which had never been heard of before: a boat-selling books. The boat has a special cabin for readers, which contains shelves full of many kinds of books, In the middle of the cabin there are desks and wooden chairs for buyers. The boat stops in the river port to greet customers and treat them with due respect. The boat is a moving bookstore with exquisite and luxurious decorations, and the size is arbitrary, not standardized. There is a special type of boat which is more comprehensive called the culture boat. Some boat bookstores are specially made for the four treasures of the study. The Jiahang Lake mainly contains bookstore-boats and writing-brush-boats.

All kinds of stories happen beside the water that will never stop. Fishermen hold a memorial ceremony for the God of Kitchen. Booksellers build boat bookstores. In old times, many folk-custom activities were held on boats in many places in Shijing. There are also well-know ceremonies including the Puyuandoumen water ceremony, and the New Cheng water ceremony. Among these, the Canhuashenghui ceremony is based on a theme of sacrifice to the Silkworm God in Tong Village and Zhi Village. Long before, Zhi Village had a grandiose Dragon boat temple(also called the Silkworm dragon temple). In the front hall is the memorial of the Four Kings and the back hall is for the Maming King bodhisattva. This bodhisattva is the Silkworm God in the Tong Village and Chongde area. The figure sits atop a lady with a standing horse which was sealed as Manjuri in the Song Dynasty and Goddess before the Silkworm in Qing Dynasty.


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