黃漢偉。〈信仰、記憶與建構：談六房媽過爐〉。《民俗曲藝》186 (2014.12): 59-101。
Huang Han-wei. “Belief, Memory, and Construction: On the Guolu Ritual of Liufangma.” Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 186 (2014.12): 59-101.
The cult of Liufangma (Mother from the sixth branch) spreads within Yunlin and Jiayi counties, its major rotating sacrifice covering Dounan, Tuku, Wujiancuo, Dabeishi, and Guoxi areas. There are several versions of the origins of the cult in spirit-writing. Nearly all of them point to a Lin family who brought this deity to
their hometown in .
Originally worshipped within the Lin clan, till this day, followers from these
areas still call this goddess “grandaunt” or “grandaunt from the sixth branch,”
indicating a shared collective memory. However, some followers’ interpretation
and textual research of the legend challenged previous spirit-writing versions.
In recent years, the government and non-governmental sectors have placed much
attention on the cultural heritage, while the locals responded with their own
constructed history. Together they revealed to the changeable nature of popular
From the perspective of intangible cultural heritage, popular religion and ritual activities carry a feature of learning by participation. This kind of learning is rooted in life experiences and forms a focus of collective identity. In the Liufangma guolu (“handing over the incense burner”) ritual, all members acquire knowledge of different categories and levels. During the process, they manifest the latent wisdom of this cult and the features of learning embedded in ritual practice. Collective memory of the five shares influences modern followers in their view of this ritual festivity. Consequently, some followers trace the origin of the legend and re-examine versions in the spirit-writing from the past. The upholding of this rotating worship system, the preservation and activation of cultural heritage all hinge on the collective memory. More than simply passing on the belief itself, local knowledge also relies on this collective memory to perpetuate.
The purpose of this study is to investigate current circumstances of the Liufangma cult, to observe religious belief as a cultural heritage, a vehicle to which the follower’s collective memory is attached. Through the practice of ritual activities and construction of local history, I present the process of how a cult serves to shape a local society.