Informant Background: The informant is originally from Hong Kong. She now lives permanently in the United States but travels back once a year to visit her relatives in Hong Kong. She speaks both Cantonese and English. Her family practices many of the Chinese traditions, folk-beliefs, and superstitions. She celebrates many of the Chinese holidays through cooking of special “holiday food.”
This is something you do if you have someone you really really hate. You can draw a picture of that person, then write his/her name on the paper…The paper is the special kind that people use to burn during funerals…Then you can take that piece of paper to a tree and put it down above the root. Then take of your shoes and hit the paper on the drawing as hard as you can. Just hold the shoe in your hand and go ta-ta-ta-ta…Oh, and it has to be your shoes. Then you shout stuff you want to say to that person like: “go die,” “die,” “I hate you,” etc. Then hopefully the stuff you said would happen to the person you drew on the paper.
The informant said she learned about this while she was growing up in Hong Kong. She heard it from her classmates. It is something children would do when they dislike their classmates or friends.
I think this shows how while both Eastern and Western culture perceive children as a separate group from society where they are always represented as innocence beings. In contrary to many beliefs children has anger and hatred that adult does. Though many society tries to have a separate category for children where they are thought of as innocence creatures, children do understand the concept of hatred and violence. This ritual shows anger and repression of anger among children. This ritual shows that children can be violent and ill-meaning, the opposite of the ideal angelic image of children.
This ritual is an example of homeopathic magic where “like” creates “like;” idea that the drawing of the person on the paper. It also has element of contagious magic through the use of one’s own shoes. It appears that this ritual is a metaphor how you will stomp the person you dislike into the ground with your own feet. Similar to sticking pins into voodoo dolls.
The use of funeral paper reflects how you wish bad thing for the person because funeral rituals and objects are reserved for that event, and not everyday life. Using funeral paper is to foreshadow the misfortune that individual. The chanting of bad omens while stomping the paper with your own shoes reflects the idea of homeopathic magic how you wish the words you said will translate into that person’s life. This is similar to the idea of the voodoo doll how the image of the target is created on an object and the rituals performed will reflect on the target.
This ritual not only shows anger as emotions but also as action. It is both violent in force and words through both the hitting of the paper and the shouting of ill-intention phrases.