Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/21/19
Primary Language: Chinese
Other Language(s): English
The informant was telling me of a belief that there are different kinds of babies. She explains how some babies are possessed by spirits when they are born below:
There is one kind of baby that only cries at night and it cries really loud. We have a specific phrase for them yia cu long which means those babies are haunted by some kind of ghosts, because like when a baby is first born they seem very vulnerable to ghosts, so they can easily see ghosts since they’re just born. If a baby is always crying at night it means yi cu long, meaning they are kind of haunted by ghosts, and so that’s why the baby is terrified and he always cry during the night. So in some of the culture what they will do is they will actually have like a person to do some ceremony in order to get the ghost out of their body or stop them from haunting the baby, so it’s like a witch but not really, and then after that the babies are not supposed to cry anymore during the night.
So like one of my mom’s friends, his grandson actually all of a sudden started crying at night everyday and he finds someone to produce the ceremony or whatever, and the baby actually stopped crying.
One day when we were talking she told me she had some interesting pieces of her culture that she could share with me, so a few weeks later we met a little café on campus at USC. We sat outdoors while she shared this tradition with me.
My informant was raised in China until middle school. When she was sixteen years old she moved to the US where she attended a boarding school in Maryland for high school. My informant transferred to USC for her sophomore year of college. She was telling me about a superstition in Chinese culture that is practiced when babies are crying. A family friend of her mother had a grandson who was crying and ‘haunted’ by a spirit, and when this ritual was performed, the baby stopped crying at night, meaning the spirit was gone.
I found it intriguing that babies can be ‘possessed’ by spirits because they are weaker and new to the world. Even more so, I think it’s incredibly that my informants family friend’s grandson stopped crying after the ritual was performed, which gives the ritual more credibility.