The Ancestors Hall

The Ancestors Hall reflects the integration of the human being and the deity in China.

The beliefs, worship of spirits and bailment that were formed through the thousands of years in different life conditions had been a vital part of daily life of the Chinese ancestors. It is a backbone of their spiritual world. The sacrificial vessels at home are an indication of the folk religious representation. It is another worldly sublimation and the re-interpretation of the plain visage of the deity. They sufficiently reveal the mentality of the living praying for the god's blessing, and the attempts to idealize the poker-faced deity and make him closer to civic life.

Overawed by the cruelty of natural disasters and fierce struggles in the real world, the humans found themselves so fragile and powerless. So they turned to their ancestors and deities for protection and blessing, which bestowed them strength and confidence, and upon which their lives relied. They burnt incense and kowtowed and prayed solemnly, and when they had obtained any delicacies, the best should be dedicated for the sacrifice to the ancestors and deities. They were always in the fear that they might fail to treat the ancestors with full respect, the result of which meant instant befall of misfortune.

The living wished the ancestors were able to continue to live in the same house with them, and bless them in cases of disasters. The tabernacles, indifferent shapes, all look like inhabitable houses, with frames, eaves, gate and windows, and characters which mean blessing, fortune, age, joy and safety. When the ancestors and deities were satisfied and pleased would the living be blessed with ample food and clothing.

From the ancestors to the clans, from the clan to the families, from the family to the children, which is the familial culture and spirit, and how the fathers instruct the children never to forget their ancestors. In the meantime these rich and colorful sacrificial halls and vessels strengthened the superb position of the deities, and inherited and distributed the traditional Chinese architectural culture and the arts of carving crafts.

The variety of the folk beliefs is presented in various forms. The exhibits that are presented here are oblation to deities and spirit tablets of the ancestors, including the tabernacles, sacred boards, sacred table, sacred shrine, divinatory lot-sticks, divinatory symbols. There are also the tablets of the Bodhisattva, ancestors, parents, family members, sacrificial tables and the sacrifices. As these vessels are placed under the same roof in the living room, they are quite different with the purely religious wares in temples. They are more of the human kindness and closer to human life. They share some similarities with the furniture in the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. They are part of the daily life and the cultural relics bearing folk beliefs.

Collected from: The provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Hebei, Henan, Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei.
Time span: Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty to the Modern Times, about 600 years of time span.

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