Know your Jiajiang 家將: General Xie 謝將軍

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in blog, Photography, Taiwan, Temple Culture | One Comment
  • SumoMe

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.

General Xie

General Xie, National Akau Mazu Cup of Youth Ba-Jia-Jang and Guan-Jang-Shou Competition, Ci Feng Mazu Temple, Pingtung City, Taiwan. Jiali Xuan Hua Tang 宣化堂 Bajiajiang troupe

Also known as Chi Ye 七爺, General Xie’s most recognizable feature is his height.

Seventh Lord

Seventh Lord (General Xie) in Great God Parade General form, Taitian Temple of Nankunshen, Tainan

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).

Eight General Zhentou

General Xie of Eight Generals performing a high crane step. Chiayi Zhen yu Tang Bajiajiang 嘉邑振玉堂駕前八家將

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 Generals Fan and Xie

Jiajiang Generals Fan and Xie are always paired and are always best friends in origin legends. Chiayi Zhen yu Tang Bajiajiang 嘉邑振玉堂駕前八家將

Bajiajiang Parade Formation

Shijiajiang Zhentou outside BeiJi Tian Temple

Shijiajiang Zhentou outside BeiJi Tian Temple  台灣府城隍廟什家將

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.

Din Tao Performance

General’s Liu, Gan, Fan and Xie perform in Taitian Temple of Nankunshen, Kun Chiang Village, Beimen Township, Tainan County, Taiwan. Chiayi Zhen yu Tang Bajiajiang 嘉邑振玉堂駕前八家將

Tools

Xie's Fire Stick

Chi Yeh holds a Fire stick in his left hand at Hsing An Gong Temple, Ren De District, Tainan City

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

Bajiajiang tattoo

General Xie’s white robe with one exposed shoulder, Taitian Temple of Nankunshen, Kun Chiang Village, Beimen. Chiayi Zhen yu Tang Bajiajiang 嘉邑振玉堂駕前八家將

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.

Bajiajiang wear special straw shoes

Bajiajiang wear special straw shoes to protect them from evil, sadly, it doesn’t protect them from the damp. Nankunshen Temple. 嘉邑玄興社家將 Chiayi Xuanxing Club

Duties

Along with General Fan, General Xie is in charge of catching fugitive demons.

 

General Xie’s Facepaint

台南興和壇什家將 Shijiajiang troupe

General Xie with crane design covering eyes. 台南興和壇什家將 Tainan Xinghe Tan Shijiajiang

General Xie has two opposing black cranes, bats or, less commonly, butterflies painted over his eyes on a white base.

General Xie's facepaint features a crane design covering the eyes and jung character on the forehead

General Xie’s face paint features a crane design covering the eyes and red “zhong character on the forehead. 台南市新化區鎮狩宮吳敬堂陣頭社 Xinhua ZhenShou Gong WuJing Tang ZhenTou Club

Easily confused with Messenger Lord Wen’s 差爺 face paint but for a red “zhong character painted on General Xie’s forehead which represents a weapon, rather than its Chinese meaning, center and is also a homonym of (ji – good fortune) a part of 一見大吉. Less commonly a trident replaces the zhong character.

Civil Messenger Wen Cai

Very similar to General Xie, Wen Cai, the civil messenger, can have near identical facepaint differentiated only by blue coloring on the cheeks and never painting a red “zhong character on their foreheads. 台南市新化區鎮狩宮吳敬堂陣頭社 Xinhua ZhenShou Gong WuJing Tang ZhenTou Club

Names

Bajiajiang General Xie

Bajiajiang General Xie wears a tall, white, four sided hat 長方帽 with four characters: 一見大吉. Chiayi Zhen yu Tang Bajiajiang 嘉邑振玉堂駕前八家將

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.

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