Author Archive
Folk speech
general
Narrative
Proverbs
Tales /märchen

Chinese Four-Character Proverb

The informant is an eighteen-year old student from Irvine, California currently studying in Los Angeles. His dad was born in India, and his mother was born in Hong Kong before they met in San Jose, CA and moved down to Orange County. He speaks some Spanish and can understand Cantonese, which is how he learned many of his proverbs. He shall be referred to as KT.

KT states that in Chinese culture, there are a series of four-character proverbs that can be summed up in a short, metaphorical sentence that relates back to a full tale.

KT: It was something like, to drain the fish- to drain the pond and catch all the fish. And it’s the story about this one warlord…and he wanted to win this battle, so he asked his two advisors how to win this battle and one of them tells him like how to basically, like, basically cheat in order to win with, like, dishonorable tactics. And the other one was like, ‘you, if you cheat this time, then no one will have any respect for you.’ It’s like you can drain the pond and get the fish, but then next year there won’t be any more fish for you to get.

KT went on to describe how the latter advisor was the wiser one, and the warlord opted to follow his advice. He explained how the proverb tells us that a shortcut may serve in the short term, but will hurt your reputation in the long term.

I agree with KT’s assessment. The proverb emphasizes that all actions taken are investments in one’s reputation, which is not something worth gambling with. This is in stark contrast to the idea of “all’s fair in love and war.” Even as a warlord, the man decided that it was better to act honorably and fairly than to risk damaging his image from a long term perspective. This devotion to honesty even in battle demonstrates a strict adherence to this value that not even the threat of fatal failure can deter.

Furthermore, the nature proverb of the pond emphasizes a cyclical idea. Draining a pond is beneficial in catching fish, but interrupts the natural flow of life. As such, the honest route seems to be more reflective of nature and the way things are meant to be, rather than an explosive interruption of cheating.

Folk speech
general
Narrative
Proverbs
Tales /märchen

Chinese Four-Character Proverb

The informant is an eighteen-year old student from Irvine, California currently studying in Los Angeles. His dad was born in India, and his mother was born in Hong Kong before they met in San Jose, CA and moved down to Orange County. He speaks some Spanish and can understand Cantonese, which is how he learned many of his proverbs. He shall be referred to as KT.

KT states that in Chinese culture, there are a series of four-character proverbs that can be summed up in a short, metaphorical sentence that relates back to a full tale.

KT: It was something about, um, something like, ‘with sheer will, the mountain moves by itself.’ And If I recall correctly it was, it was about this guy, he was, um, one of those, he worked in a quarry, like a stonemason, I guess, and one day he wanted to, uh, he was for some reason he wanted to, like, carve a path through this mountain, to like, to get to the other side. For some reason, I can’t remember what. But, so every day he would go out to this mountain and he would, um, like, chip away at it to get some of like the crags and stones off the mountain, carve them away, but, um ,no matter how often he did that, the mountain didn’t seem to, like, change, because it’s a freakin’ mountain, he can’t really .. so he did this for years, like decades and then, um, I believe Buddha or like a god in heaven looks at this guy and he’s like, ‘oh he’s so determined, no matter how hard he tries, um, to move this mountain, he’s not going to be able to do it,’ but he has just, like a sheer amount of determination that, um, the Buddha actually decides to move the mountain for him. So after, like, decades of work, and he doesn’t, like, produce anything, he finally wakes up one morning, goes out to the mountain and he sees the mountain is gone, so his goal is finally realized.

KT went on to explain that he couldn’t remember the exact four characters that gave the moral of the story, but that it basically encapsulated the idea that hard work is rewarded. He went on to explain that he deeply believes this, thinking that sheer will and determination can cause something outside of one’s control to work for them.

This seems to be reflective of the intense discipline of Chinese culture. The man goes about his task alone (never asking for help), working for decades to accomplish his goal. Even faced with the daunting task of carving through a mountain, he does not deviate from his goal. In fact, it is his discipline rather than actual productivity that brings about his goal. As KT told me, Chinese culture is very much about enduring the struggles of life for great reward (see “Chinese proverb” in my collection), and this short story seems to be a form of encouragement: Even when one’s efforts don’t seem to be causing much good, the motivation behind them will ultimately result in great reward.

Annotation:

Eliot, Charles William, Aesop, Wilhelm Grimm, Jacob Grimm, and H. C. Andersen. Folk-lore and Fable: Æsop, Grimm, Andersen. [Whitefish, MT]: Kessinger Pub., 2004. Google Books.

This story immediately reminded me of a reversal of the Aesop fable of Hercules and the waggoner. In this story, a man is taking his wagon to market when it gets stuck in the mud. Before making any attempt, he prays to Hercules to help him. When Hercules appears, he demands that the man put his shoulder to the wheel before asking for help. In both stories, divine intervention has something to do with the accomplishment of a task. In the Chinese story, the man never asks for help. Instead, he receives help from the heavens due to his raw determination, as opposed to the waggoner who instead demonstrates no discipline but instead asks for help immediately. This comparison heightens the importance of a strong work ethic in Chinese culture, even more so than the story itself.

folk metaphor
Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Chinese Proverb

The informant is an eighteen-year old student from Irvine, California currently studying in Los Angeles. His dad was born in India, and his mother was born in Hong Kong before they met in San Jose, CA and moved down to Orange County. He speaks some Spanish and can understand Cantonese, which is how he learned many of his proverbs. He shall be referred to as KT.

“Bitter medicine is the best medicine.”

KT told me that this came from his mother when she tried to get him to eat bitter melon as a child. She always believed that the healthiest foods are often the least appetizing and thus worth suffering through. KT then said that he initially believed that this was meant to encourage him to eat bitter foods because of their health, but later interpreted it in a broader context. He now believes it has more to do with how the best things in life often come at some expense, but are ultimately rewarding.

I felt this was largely reflective of KT’s Chinese culture, which emphasizes hard work and discipline. KT himself exemplifies this in his studies, as he is an honors student majoring in biology. The proverb recognizes that life is not always easy, but asserts that the best rewards come with the greatest challenges. Furthermore, the use of the term “medicine” has a corrective value to it. Thus, it seems that discipline is more than just a path to being exemplary: By KT’s broader, life-based interpretation, it is the cure to mediocrity.

general
Legends
Narrative

Muslim Fable- Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab and his Slave

The informant is a nineteen-year old student born in Australia who’s lived in Egypt for two years, England for two years, Jordan for four years, Egypt for two years, India for four years and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA for university.  He is the son of an Egyptian ambassador and speaks Arabic, English and French. He shall be referred to as SH. SH explains that there are a series of fables relating to Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab, mostly morality tales telling of his incredible sense of justness that is admired widely by Muslims. He details that he learned these orally from relatives when he was growing up. Here, he tells one that features the Khalifa entering the newly conquered city of Jerusalem:

SH: He, I believe like, they, this Caliph had actually, um, taken Jerusalem, and so he was traveling to Jerusalem to sort of like enter the city and one of the things he did, for example, was he would switch off between him and his slave, like, they were on a camel traveling the desert to Jerusalem and that’s when he would enter the city as the Caliph and sort of like, I dunno, I’m not sure exactly what that would entail. But he would enter the city so he was switching between him and his slave uh, you know, and, uh, at some point they were about to reach Jerusalem and it was the slaves turn to, you know, ride the camel so the slave tells him ‘you’re the Caliph, you can’t enter Jerusalem except on the camel’ and he says ‘no, no, it was your turn,’ so he enters Jerusalem, you know, holding the camel while the slave’s sitting on top of the camel, so that’s, you know, very fair, very just. This tale exhibits justness to the point of almost-shocking regal humility. While the Caliph is obviously ranked above his slave, he insists on allowing him his proper turn on the camel. As the relative of an important figure, SH heard this story within the context of relatives telling him about leadership. Aside from being an incredibly generous gesture to the slave, it is a very public gesture of his greater devotion to fairness than to his own high ranking. By my own analysis, I feel that this gesture would have seemed even more shocking in that time period. Today, if a president were seen letting an assistant drive his car, this would be worthy of great media attention. The social class difference between a Caliph and slave would be far greater, thus dramatizing the Caliph’s generous nature. By publicly entering the city this way, I feel the story is saying that such an expression was made to set a widespread example, which is clearly demonstrated by the story’s continued popularity in Muslim culture. Thus, listeners should take away that justness and fairness should always be practiced, even in the face of public scrutiny. Annotation: Mukarram, Ahmed M., and Muzaffar Husain Syed. Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 2005. Google Books. A similar version of this story appears in an account of the history of Islam. In this version, the Caliph responds to the slave’s offer to ride with, “The honour of Islam (i.e. being Muslim) is enough for all of us.” This story also extends past SH’s version, as it includes the Caliph becoming angry at the Muslim commanders in the city for wearing expensive clothing and not living humbly as demanded by their religion. While still suggestive of great justness and humility, this story also shows a darker side of the Caliph and does not function as well as a fable. The focus of SH’s telling on the Caliph and the slave emphasizes humility in relations with others as opposed to engagement in an opulent lifestyle, thus serving as a better fable about leadership.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
general
Protection
Proverbs

Southern Egyptian Proverb

The informant is a nineteen-year old student born in Australia who’s lived in Egypt for two years, England for two years, Jordan for four years, Egypt for two years, India for four years and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA for university.  He is the son of an Egyptian ambassador and speaks Arabic, English and French. He shall be referred to as SH.

“If you have a lot of enemies, you probably have a very high fence.”

SH explains that this is used alternatively with the reflexive version (“If you have a high fence, you probably have a lot of enemies”). He further elaborates that it is usually told in the context of leaders (either to a leader, from a leader, or between leaders) in regards to justness. He explains how someone who is just has no reason to fear anyone, and thus should not worry about retribution from anyone. However, someone who is very defensive is likely to have wronged someone.

I thought that as the relative of an important figure, SH would likely have come across this proverb in that context. Upon further analysis, this proverb suggests that injustice will always receive retribution. As this is a common phrase in a Muslim area, there is a belief in a higher power that will doll out justice for someone who has been wronged. This seems to be an understanding on a mortal level as well; someone who has a lot of enemies does not expect to get away with their crime, but instead chooses to build a tall fence to protect him or herself. Thus, even those who commit injustice expect it to be returned to them in this society.

Digital
general

Video Mash-Up- “The Dark Knight Trailer Recut – Toy Story 2″

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QFWBFIEuig


This video is a mash-up of the films Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and The Dark Knight. It was uploaded onto YouTube on August 10, 2008 and as of April 28, 2011 has gained 1,498,101 views.
The video takes the soundtrack from a theatrical trailer for The Dark Knight and cuts footage from Toy Story and Toy Story 2 to match the onscreen action and dialogue. Woody becomes the Joker, Buzz Lightyear becomes Batman, and Rex the Dinosaur becomes Alfred Pennyworth. The footage is cut together to create the impression that the Toy Story franchise is a dramatic franchise in the same vein as The Dark Knight, appropriately cutting action shots from the films to create a more adventurous tone than the two original films. None of the footage is altered (except for time cutting and splicing) and the soundtrack is similarly unaltered- the artistry comes out of the combination of these very different film franchises.
This is reflective of a very postmodern collapse of different facets of culture: While both film franchises are very successful, Toy Story is directed at family audiences while The Dark Knight skews toward adolescent male audiences. While this was made shortly after the release of The Dark Knight, the inclusion of Toy Story reflects the modern generation’s nostalgic attachment to that 90’s film series. While Toy Story 3 would bring the franchise back to relevance in 2010, this mash-up demonstrates continued interest in the series even in the late 2000s.
As with most mash-ups, there is the question as to how original this editing actually is. However, the art of film editing has always been something of a mash-up art form: Editors cut together footage created by the director of photography. As such, there seems to be a more direct appreciation of video mash-ups, because it’s a more practiced and recognized art form (and the great success in viewership testifies to that). The widespread availability of digital editing has democratized that process and made it possible for people to cut footage from popular films like this.
Furthermore, the great disparity of the two franchises (an animated comedy series and a dramatic crime-thriller) is reflective of this generation’s desire to combine interests. With digital archiving, facets of our childhood are immediately accessible, whether via DVD or the internet. At the same time, we have our contemporary interests, such as films like The Dark Knight. With both so readily at hand, there is no need to separate them. If anything, this video seems to be an attempt to combine those interests and address the desire to experience everything at once, as is common in our age of information overload. The result is a piece of artistry widely regarded as cleverly amusing.
Annotation:
“YouTube- Watchmen & WALL-E Mashup Trailer – 720p HD.” YouTube.com. 8 Aug. 2008. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-Ka8DnUVEQ>.
This mash-up video goes even further with editing, altering the images of the film WALL-E to fit the trailer for the film Watchmen. Again, there is a combination of an animated comedy with a dramatic comic book adaptation. This mash-up features more dramatic editing, slowing down and speeding up footage, creating unique title credits, and even using supplemental features from the DVD release to cut something that matches the trailer soundtrack. It is debatable, however, whether or not the greater editing contributes to its lesser popularity on YouTube, as if it skewed too far away from the attachment to WALL-E.

Customs
Foodways
general
Life cycle

Chinese Eating Habits- Seniority at the Dinner Table

The informant is an eighteen-year old student from Los Angeles. He was born in Taipei and received schooling in America. He had been studying in Taipei before moving back to the United States for university. He speaks Chinese and English and will be referred to in this transcript as “GS.”

GS: We, we Chinese people like to have, uh, a lot of family gatherings for, for dinner. Basically lunch and dinner we gather all the relatives in the house to have lunch and dinner in these big round tables and you pass the food. You don’t really pass the food, but the food is placed on this spinning table, the spinning table and then uh, people spin that to eat.

Interviewer: We call that a lazy Susan, what do you call it?

GS: Uh, we just call it, like, the spinning table.

GS: And then, um most of the time we get together to celebrate different phases in people’s lives or relatives coming back home. There’s lot of occasions where these, um, things, um, but one particular thing about this family eating at the round table is that I was always taught that elders are supposed to get their food first. So, let’s imagine you’re all sitting down at the table and then the food is there. I mean, naturally you’re really hungry so you want to dig in, but you can’t, you have to wait, in terms of seniority you have to wait for, let’s say your grandpa, of course the male, the grandpa to get his food, then the grandma, and then, you know the oldest uncle, the oldest- second, the oldest, like, it goes in like age as respect so the more, older someone is the more respected they are. And they get the food in that, in that order and um usually a kid, a young kid, might be the last one to get his food. Unless, you know, per, unless you know perhaps they might be celebrating his return from college or something, but even in that case the grandma will definitely get food first. Uh, also I know here in America there’s this thing where you wait for everybody to gather to the table before you start eating and then uh, to you know, circumvent that, or to escape that kind of thing, you can ask, ‘is it okay to eat first,’ and mostly they’ll reply yes, and then you can eat first, but in, um, back home you can’t do that, you have to wait until everybody is seated, you know, till the father, or the patriarch, the grandfather, you know, the head male figure, picks up his chopsticks, eats, and then everybody else can eat, and then everybody else digs in. So uh, this is really significant of this patriarchal society in uh, Taiwan or Chinese culture. The thing I was talking about was basically the very Confucian belief in (indistinguishable) piety where the older you are the more respect you have.

Again, GS here mostly explains the significance of seniority in a social event (such as dinner) in Chinese culture. The emphasis on age and gender is rarely deviated from, particularly in comparison to such habits in the United States.

As GS touched on, I found this system to be much stricter than for United States practice. In Chinese culture, while the child might be the last to get his food, they might also be able to exercise the least restraint of all the guests at the table. In American culture, thus, a small child might begin eating right away without any consequence. The strict adherence to social rules in a Chinese dinner thus reflects the strong value in tradition and discipline in that culture. The lack of deviation (and minimally so even on a special occasion) demonstrates how important these rules are. In addition, by my own interpretation, dinner is an incredibly important ritual of ingesting nutrition. The oldest in the family is not likely to have the greatest health, and thus eating is most important for them (as opposed to the younger family members, who can handle a short time without eating). Thus, this strict order addresses the nutritional needs of the people involved. This may also be influenced by the responsibility of bringing food for the table: It can be assumed that the patriarch has been providing food for the family for the longest time (via employment), and then the matriarch the second-longest (via food preparation). As such, this practice seems to be an exercise in rewarding the hardest workers, again instilling a sense of discipline at the dinner table. As food can be such a personal part of life (one very closely related to emotions), the values instilled here clearly represent a monumentally important facet of life in this culture.

Childhood
Folk speech
general
Protection

Mexican folk prayer, “Angel de la Guarda”

The informant is a 47-year old accountant working in California, originally from Michoacán, Mexico. She lived a modest life as a young adult, having to take care of her family at a very young age while still finding success in management. She then moved to the United States with her husband to raise their family and now works in accounting. She primarily speaks Spanish with English as a second language.  He shall be referred to as MB.

“Ángel de la Guarda, mi dulce compañía, no me desampares, ni de noche ni de día, porque sin ti, yo me perdería.”

“Angel of the Guard, my sweet company, no me abandons, no of night no of day, because without you, I myself lose.”

“Guardian angel, my sweet friend, do not abandon me by night nor by day, because without you, I would lose myself.”

This is a common prayer taught to small children. As MB explained, this is often the first prayer children learn in Mexico, even before the traditional “Our Father” (“Padre Nuestro”). It is often taught as early as the age of three, or whenever children begin speaking. MB explained how this becomes a very personal prayer for small children, who take it as a sign of security. Because it refers to “my” guardian angel, every child who recites it will interpret it as a very personal relationship with a guardian angel. In a Catholic community, MB explained that this reinforces the idea of divine protection from a very young age. It is often recited when children are feeling afraid, or sometimes simply before bed. In that case, it is usually accompanied by a small picture that portrays a tall angel guiding a small boy and small girl over a narrow bridge, crossing over a tumultuous river. This provides a visual reference for the children, who may have trouble with the idea of an unseen guardian angel at first.

MB noted that in her family, her younger sister believed for the longest time that their own picture of the guardian angel was a photograph of herself and her brother, the two eldest children in the family.

By my interpretation, this demonstrates the closeness a child can form with this prayer, even if not directly relating to them. The guardian angel becomes an extension of protection from the home and the family, as the angel can protect children wherever they go. It also encourages an active prayer relationship from an early age, as this prayer does not take on the form of a formal address to God, but a simple, rhyme-based call to the guardian angel. The portrayal of small children in the picture also reinforces a youthful involvement in religious life, particularly to the small Catholic town that MB grew up in.

Earth cycle
Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Life cycle

Chinese Legend- Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-shek and National Disasters

The informant is an eighteen-year old student from Los Angeles. He was born in Taipei and received schooling in America. He had been studying in Taipei before moving back to the United States for university. He speaks Chinese and English and will be referred to in this transcript as “GS.”

GS: Okay, so, uh, this is something that my grandmother said during a family gathering ‘cause, like, I guess in Chinese culture everybody look after our their elders, it’s a dominant belief, so, like, uh we have family gatherings every week at our house, there’s always someone over at our house. So this is during a family gathering and we’re sitting around the living room. And she, uh, tells us about how- I don’t exactly remember the context, but she mentions how back in um, when Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong’s time, when Mao Zedong passed away, there was a great earthquake in China. She mentions the great earthquake, but what I think she’s referring to is the Tangshang Earthquake in 1976, and when Mao Zedong passed away that big earthquake happened and because, uh, he was actually a turtle spirit, the reincarnate of a turtle spirit from heaven. So when he passed away he made a big ruckus. That was Mao Zedong, but Chiang Kai-shek is a sky spirit, he’s like a dragon or an eagle, like a sky spirit, so when Chiang Kai-shek passed away, there was a great storm. There was a great storm in Taiwan and my grandmother describes it as all of a sudden, she said she was, at the time, she was in the living room, and then all of a sudden everyone heard and all of a sudden this great storm, there was peace and then a great storm, and the next day the news reports that Chiang Kai-shek died in the night yesterday. And she like, really said okay, Chiang Kai-shek died, that storm, he caused it ‘cause he passed away to heaven, making a ruckus as he left, as he went into the sky. And uh, interestingly, my mother and my father both remember this, they both remember, of course, cause the Tangshang Earthquake is, you know, infamous in how many lives it took, they remember the Tangshang Earthquake and said yes, this is about the time that Mao Zedong died, and they also remember the great storm that came all of a sudden in the dead of the night when Chiang Kai-shek passed away, uh, it’s interesting cause I wanted to tell you this so I just searched it up, but the Tangshang Earthquake, was in a, uh, it was in June, it, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, (he laughs, as he’s trying to fix a problem on his phone), in June, 1976, or July, 1976, but Mao Zedong passed away in September of 1976…  (indistinguishable) ever most known strangely associate this happen together. I’m not sure when Chiang Kai-shek passed away because that storm isn’t that as notorious as the earthquake. But this is this belief that these two people were so historically, like they changed the, uh, East Asia so much historically because one is an earth spirit and one is a sky spirit, and they fought each other.

Interviewer: And so what’s the significance of that story?

GS: I, I think, it’s just uh, for Asians they or, not just Asians, Chinese, but like my background Chinese and Alamanese, they think that great historical figures are often like, like, uh, reincarnates or descendents of some kind of celestial being so they would say, you know Mao Zedong is an earth spirit, and then they would say, uh, Chiang Kai-shek is a sky spirit because of how much change they did to the world.

Interviewer: Cool.

GS: Just like, another belief in like the supernatural for the Chinese.

As a person born into Chinese culture and educated in the United States, GS offered some interesting insight into this and other of the stories he shared. As he explained, for older Chinese generations, this story happened literally: His grandmother immediately attributed both the earthquake and the storm to the death of Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek respectively. GS explains that grand political figures were associated with celestial bodies that affected life on earth. For the modern generation, he felt the story was more symbolic than a literal story as told by his grandmother. Nonetheless, while not always associated with the powers of the heavens, the deaths of political figures are usually seen as major social upheavals even in our own society. Consider the international mourning of Princess Diana or It seems that when a figure has life as powerful and influential as that of Mao Zedong or Chiang Kai-shek, their people felt that their deaths could only be matched by just as devastating a force. Because of the belief in the eternity of the spirit in China, it is no surprise that the work of an influential figure is far from done after death.

Annotation-

Cheater, A. P. “Death Ritual as Political Trickster in the People’s Republic of China.” The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 26th ser. (1991): 67-97. JSTOR. Web.

The relation between people’s reaction to Mao Zedong’s death and the Tangshan Earthquake is discussed in this article, albeit it in a reversed context from the one GS related. While GS only heard the story in positive terms (always that Mao was “influential” and “powerful,” never “ruthless”), it is clear that some people did not hold him in high regard. As stated by Cheater in the article, “When the Tangshan earthquake preceded Mao’s death by less than three months, some invoked the ‘feudal’ notion that the Mandate of Heaven was slipping” (80-81). Here, while his death and the earthquake are connected, it is more in the context of criticizing him.

general

Chinese Wedding Game

The informant is an eighteen-year old student from Los Angeles. He was born in Taipei and received schooling in America. He had been studying in Taipei before moving back to the United States for university. He speaks Chinese and English and will be referred to in this transcript as “GS.”

GS: Uh, this one is a wedding way, something like a wedding folkway like something we do um, what it is, is that we, first of all when couples get married we don’t really have ma-, wedding ceremonies, uh, the wedding ceremony is when, like, a banquet, a wedding banquet where we invite all the relatives to come eat together in this big ballroom. And then we announce the marriage and then, uh, people sign the names and then they leave some sort of money for, you know, the marriage. So it, congratulation money for the marriage. Um, so guests are in this big banquet and then the, the groom or the husband goes around, you know, drinking with everybody and he usually gets really drunk and so there’s the bride, the bride goes around and drinks with the females and the male goes around and drinks with the males. Like toasting, basically and they both get really you know, I guess, kind of really tipsy and then the family usually plays games with them. So one such game is that they tie, I’m not sure what it is but, don’t get disgusted by this, but like a heart, like, um, uh, boiled and, uh, flavored heart. And uh, I’m not sure if it was, I think it’s pork or is it cow, a heart and they tie it on a string and then hang it from, like, a wooden rod and then the couples have to tie their hands behind their back, blindfolded, and then they both try to eat the heart together. So it’s, yeah, okay, so then you’ll just see these two tipsy couples like (slurp sound) floundering around on the you know, pol- the, the stage! Because, you know it’s a ballroom, on stage, trying to eat this pig heart.

…

Interviewer: So what do you think is the uh, significance of things like the heart eating or the interruption of uh-

GS: Okay, so, first of all the heart eating thing or the heart eating thing is, uh, I don’t really see why, I think it’s just a game, you know, uh, like, what is it tricking or messing around with the couple. I think that there are a lot of traditions, uh, in the western world, too, that mess, you mess around with the couple on their wedding day, you know it’s kind of like a prank that you do.

Interviewer: So out of curiosity, um, the eating the heart, does that seem weird to me just because I’m from Western culture or is it weird in that context as well?

GS: Um, I said don’t be disgusted because I thought you might be disgusted by the idea of eating an animal’s heart, sometimes it’s a liver, eating an animal’s liver, but you just have to accept like, these are really, like, common foods, ‘cause, like, we eat these at the dinner table all the time and we also, like, there’s on the street vending and it’s just flavored heart, it tastes really good you come to Taipei I’ll treat you to one. You might be disgusted by the idea but I tell you it’s chicken then you’re gonna eat it and I’ll be like ha, you just ate heart. But uh, yeah, but the whole concept of tying on the string and playing with the couples, I think it’s interesting, not weird

Interviewer: Mkay, cool, thank you.

The wedding ceremony demonstrates the active role of the family in a newlywed couple’s lives. The presentation of money seems like an investment in the lives of the two who have just gotten married, again showing that they all hope that this will mean the continuity of the family name.

The heart-eating game, however, seems to be more of a fun game to be played than anything else. As GS points out, the couple is usually intoxicated at this point, increasing the absurdity of the game. As it is slightly embarrassing and challenging, it seems to be a unifying exercise for the couple (they are usually on a stage during the event in plain view). I expect the family subjects them to this point of ridicule to unite them in their awkward struggle, hoping to create a bonding event to strengthen the marriage right at the start.

[geolocation]