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Seedlings Protection Rite

This film records four spring ploughing customs of Hakka people in Western Fujian in the first two lunar months.There are Mud Buddha Festival in Juhe village, Hundreds Tin Pots Feast in Shengping village, Spring Cattle Festival in Xinquan village and Seedlings Protection Rite in Jiangfang village.
The film is shot at four different villages which belong to two counties, Changting County and Liancheng County. These two counties, which now belong to Longyan City, belonged to Tingzhou Prefecture in history. Tingzhou is located at the south foot of Wuyi Mountain, where Minjiang River and Tingjiang River originate. It is the core settlement of Hakka people, therefore, Tingzhou prefecture city is also known as "Hakka’s Capital". The Tingjiang River, which originates from Tingzhou, is also known as "Hakka mother river". It flows through five counties in the region, then goes southward and flows into Hanjiang River in Guangdong Province. Tingzhou was firstly set up in 733 during Tang Dynasty. In the era of Chenghua of Ming Dynasty(1465-1487), Tingzhou got its 8th county, from then on,“8 counties of Tingzhou” had become a cultural identity for Hakka people in western Fujian, it had a great influence on their life and society.
Hakka people live in the mountains, for thousands of years, agriculture has been the main and most important living for them. Their folk customs and folk belief activities are mostly related to agriculture. The spring ploughing customs selected in this series had distinct Hakka cultural characteristics, they showed Hakka people's attitude towards agriculture. This film happened to be related to four important agricultural means of production. "Mud Buddha Festival" is about fields, "Hundreds Tin Pot Feast" is about seedlings, "Spring Cattle Festival" is about cattle and "Seedlings Protection Rite" is about rice. These four customs are still vividly displayed in Hakka village communities every year. As a living "historical relics", they also showed us some aspects of Hakka traditional society: ancestor worship and fertility worship, The mysterious and long-lasting influence of folk beliefs and Taoist traditions in Hakka tradition society, such as Hakka people’s protectors the Three Great Masters, God of Grains ,Emperor Guandi, Lords and God of Earth and Village. It also showed Hakka people’s complex concepts on the universe, ghosts, gods and life.
The main materials of this film was shot in the spring of 2017(Year of the Rooster), and the production was completed in the unusual spring of 2020. Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, folk custom activities were suspended. S. A. Alexievich once said, when the cameras were turned off, people’s living continued, that was the unforgettable part of documentaries. These four folk customs have experienced and are experiencing challenges in the long history and in a transitional society today. With more and more Hakka traditional communities involved in the wave of modernization, although people's feelings about the traditional agricultural folk customs may be different from their ancestors, these four customs are still the most important cultural traditions in their communities. After the camera is turned off, we don't know what will happen to these "historical relics ". The Hakka culture continues and our observation will also continue.

  • 張鳳英
    ZHANG Fengying,Born in Fujian province, Ph.D. of the Chinese University of HongKong.
  • 甯元乖
    GUI Shuzhong, Born in Ninghua of Fujian province, formally named Ning Yuanguai, is poet, documentary film director and member of editorial board of the book Film Author. He has been doing image recording of hakka folk customs in western Fujian province.His works including five long documentary films: Yukou Paper, Old Genealogy, Chronicles of Hulling Rice, Seven Sages Temple and Revive, and several short ones, such as Wugong Sutra and The Ballad of Spring Sheri. His works have attended the art festival Grain God Narrative of Shanghai Biennial “Urban Project”and Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival and won “The Postnatal Film Award” of the 4th Postnatal Biennial Cultural Art Award.
  • XU Xuelian
  • LI Song
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    51 minutes 18 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 1, 2019
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Director - 張鳳英, 甯元乖