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(Reference) Lo, Roger Shih-Chieh 羅士傑. 2019. "Jindai Wenzhou de longzhou jingdu yu difang zizhi chuantong"
12021-08-12T06:50:02-04:00Weiting Guo08b125beef921c47ad1de3c337b8d14abd2713ab352(Reference) Lo, Roger Shih-Chieh 羅士傑. 2019. "Jindai Wenzhou de longzhou jingdu yu difang zizhi chuantong"plain2021-08-12T07:05:59-04:00Weiting Guo08b125beef921c47ad1de3c337b8d14abd2713abLo, Roger Shih-Chieh 羅士傑. 2019. "Jindai Wenzhou de longzhou jingdu yu difang zizhi chuantong" 近代溫州的龍舟競渡與地方自治傳統 [Dragon Boat Racing and Local Self-governance Tradition in Modern Wenzhou]. Lishi renleixue xuekan 歷史人類學學刊 [Journal of History and Anthropology] 17, no. 1: 31–65.
In Wenzhou, for example, this festival was not solely for the commemoration of Qu Yuan. It was linked with various sections in local society, and was also used as an instrument for conflicts and competition. As historian Roger Shih-chieh Lo persuasively argues, dragon boat races in Wenzhou–with varied origins, forms, and beliefs—have constantly been used for distributing social, cultural, and political resources. Local people usually used these races as an opportunity to show their opinions, and hence were involved in behind-the-scene conflicts and negotiations at their races and festivals (Lo 2019).
Moreover, while the races had constantly been regarded as an arena for competition, they were also related to one of the most important elements of Wenzhou society—namely, water. The canals and rivers were not only used for irrigation, flood drainage, and transportation, they were also used as boundaries between lands and as routes connecting villages with shared interests. These waterways could be the causes of disputes regarding the use of waters and lands; they could also serve as the site for resolving disputes or reshaping social relationships. In either case, dragon boat races have served as a useful instrument for local communities to connect, contest, or negotiate with one another.
In the following sections, I will use Zhang Gang's experiences to discuss how dragon boat racing became an integral part of daily life in Wenzhou. I will also use these cases to analyze how such races shaped the ways people interacted with water—especially the rivers and canals where the races were performed—and constructed a space for negotiating resources and communal affairs in people's daily life.
As Zhang Gang mentioned in his diary, the Gongrui, Xincheng, Tangxia, and Suifeng rivers were the major sites for dragon boat racing. Other rivers also held racing, including those outside the Wenruitang region. In either case, the practice of dragon boat racing was an integral part of the ritual of forming an alliance.
The villages in these systems paid tribute to their “Dragon Boat Madam,” which was a huge dragon boat that was used as a symbol for the entire ritual alliance. Upon the building of a new boat, villagers performed a ritual to invite gods to their boats, then carried the boat from their temple to the water. After the ceremony, the new boat was recognized as a member of the alliance, and hence was permitted to participate in racing under the Madam's scrutiny. Villages belonging to one ritual alliance were thus the players of local political games, using the races to confront and negotiate with other villages within the same alliance (Lo 2019).
The map here shows these three major regions, as well as their ceremonial centers (marked with a semi-circle “U” sign), which housed their Madam boat and possessed the power to adjudicate disputes. In some regions, as Lo points out, communities had built more than one Madam boat. The boundary of each alliance evolved over time, depending on the power balance and the values and shared interests between villages.
In general, the Dragon Boat Madam culture helped local communities maintain their local self-governance system. Villages formed a bond with one another using shared culture and ceremony. When disputes occurred, they also resorted to the deity and the authoritative figures who had managed these rituals.