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Clip Three: Brass Band and Beauties
Time: Morning, 25 March 2006


First we see a ritual performer dressed in white who plays the role of a sorrowful, filial daughter. Tradition dictates that a proper funeral should, as an expression of filiality, include lamenting female descendants, and Taiwanese sometimes hire professionals to fulfill this requirement.
        Then by mid-morning, we see two music bands arrive: a women’s brass band with umbrella-wielding models, and a men’s band with pipes and percussion instruments. In these and subsequent events, the women’s brass band sometimes occupies center stage, whereas the men’s band generally only provides the background soundtrack for other rituals.

Clip Four: Paying Final Respects


Part of the funeral involves paying respects to the deceased through ceremonial bows and incense offerings. Normally all the family and relatives complete a series of rituals before outsiders pay their respects, but exceptions can be made for certain politicians with busy itineraries.
        Here, we see Lai Shibao 賴士葆, a member of the national legislature, pay his respects during the time for family members. Next, the hall is cleared of food offerings, and a red carpet rolled out, in preparation for another set of rituals. Family members continue the requisite rituals, with assistance from the a ritual master and assistants, who recite incantations and the Sim-keng 心經 (Heart sutra). Finally, outsiders such as local police and political figures, candidates for upcoming local elections, neighbors, and friends pay their final respects.

Clip Five: String-Cutting and Coffin Sealing


In rituals intended to provide protection from the potentially baleful energies of the corpse yet also to capture some of these energies for health, prosperity, and fertility, a ritual assistant directs participants in a string-cutting ritual, followed by the symbolic final nailing of the coffin. “Lâi tián kiáⁿ-sun-teng, tāi-tāi heng o͘ ! 來點囝孫釘,代代興哦” (now, tap the “descendants’ nail” and generation after generation will be prosperous), calls out the ritual assistant. A yellow covering over the coffin displays Buddhist swastikas, lotus-shaped paper flowers, and the characters Nan-mo͘ O-bí-tô-hút 南無阿彌陀佛 (homage to amitābha buddha).

Clip Six: Funeral Procession


The funeral specialists and participants make a procession through the neighborhood. As is common these days, the coffin is pushed on wheels rather than carried by poles. When the procession ends, the coffin is loaded into a hearse. The corpse will then be taken to a the neighboring city of Jilong 基隆 to be cremated.
        We were invited to film these rituals with the understanding that we would give a DVD of the highlights to the Tēⁿ  lineage. For dramatic, movie-like effects, in three places music was added over the original sound. This clip, taken from the DVD rather than from the master copy, includes the music to the Chinese song Songbie 送別 (Farewell), which was originally based on the American song Dreaming of Home and Mother.  

Clip Seven: Doing the Merit Fruit


Here the junior ritual master performs part of a series of rituals (chò kōng-kó 做功果) to transfer merit and material assets to the deceased. The spirit of the deceased’s husband is also summoned to share in the benefits, as can be deduced from the additional red spirit banner attached to the bamboo switch. One of the rituals in this series is called “running the absolution horse” (cháu sià-bè 走赦馬, pronounced by informants cháu siā-bè ), which involves sending a spirit-official on horseback to deliver a document requesting the netherworld authorities to absolve the deceased of her sins. During this ritual, the performers run around with the absolution request, paper models of the spirit-official and his horse, and torches. The frantic running represents the urgent journey of the official on horseback through the night to deliver the request.

Clip Eight: Burning Mock Money for the Deceased


While holding important ritual implements (sîn-hoan, sîn-chú-pâi, hûn-sin, and incense bowl), family members form a circle and burn a mock paper currency called “vault money” (khò͘-chîⁿ 庫錢). Burning the currency is believed to transfer it to the deceased.

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