Bajiajiang 八家將 and Shijiajiang’s 什家將 General Xie 謝將軍(xie jiang jun)
Jiajiang 家將 are religious temple parade performance troupe members that may be likened to police officers; they search out demon criminals, arrest, interrogate and punish them. They protect certain — usually underworld — gods like Kitsbargha 地藏王, City God 城隍, King of the Broad Marshes 廣澤尊王, etc. when they go on tour. This series will give some key elements in recognizing the different Jiajiang.
Also known as Chi Ye 七爺, General Xie’s most recognizable feature is his height.
Legends have it that he was once a snow crane 白鶴 so is depicted as tall, thin and poses like a crane (on one foot) and does the snow crane dance (graceful hopping while arms motion like flapping wings).
During temple performances a Bajiajiang troupe’s quality may be judged by General Hsieh and Fan’s performance, they are said to be the most important generals and included are in most Jiajiang zhentou.
Bajiajiang Parade Formation
When in zhentou parade formation, Hsieh is on the left and always paired with Fan, behind General’s Liu and Gan, who together are the Four Great Generals 四大將軍(si da jiang jun) or, simply, the front four.
When in parade formation, Hsieh’s fan – believed to have magical qualities – is always positioned on the outside to ward off evil and his inside hand often carries a fish-shaped cangue 魚枷 (often Chiayi troupes) or a fire bamboo stick火籤(often Tainan troupes) .
General Xie’s Clothing
General Xie wears a tall, white, four sided hat 長方帽 with four characters: 一見大吉, once seen great luck, meaning if you see this immortal, luck is sure to follow, a long white robe with one exposed shoulder and straw shoes with magical qualities to protect the wearer from evil.
Along with General Fan, General Xie is in charge of catching fugitive demons.
General Xie’s Facepaint
General Xie has two opposing black cranes, bats or, less commonly, butterflies painted over his eyes on a white base.
Easily confused with Messenger Lord Wen’s 文差爺 face paint but for a red “中” zhong character painted on General Xie’s forehead which represents a weapon 戟, rather than its Chinese meaning, center and is also a homonym of 吉 (ji – good fortune) a part of 一見大吉. Less commonly a trident replaces the zhong character.
Lord Xie 謝爺 (xie ye), Hsieh Bi-an 謝必安 (xie bi an), Great Lord大爺 (da ye), Bai Wu-chang 白無常 (bai wu chang), Seventh Lord 七爺 (qi ye), Arresting God 捉神 (zhuo shen), Tall Lord 高爺 (gao ye), White Lord 白爺(bai ye), General Hsieh, Chi Yeh, Seventh Master, etc. And a countless variety of English spellings.