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Shaoxing

Shaoxing (Shao-hsing; ancient name:Yue) is a prefecture-level city in northeastern Zhejiang Province of China. Lying on the south bank of the Qiantang River mouth, it borders Ningbo to the east, Taizhou to the southeast, Jinhua to the southwest, and Hangzhou to the west.

History
Modern-day Shaoxing sits on the site of the capital of the Spring and Autumn Period Kingdom of Yue. Around the sixth century BC, Yue had a sinicised ruling elite which fought a number of wars against its northern archrival Kingdom of Wu.

Shaoxing became a subprefecture during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Under the Republic of China, it became a county. Under the People's Republic of China it is a city administrative unit.

Tourism
A boat on one of Shaoxing's waterways, near the city centerLu Xun's residence is preserved near the middle of the city, and has become a tourist destination.
East Lake is a traditional scenic area just out of town.
Shaoxing has the Tomb of Yu the Great.

World Choir Games
Shaoxing is the location of the next official world choir games in 2010.

Shaoxing Wine
The Chinese rice wine  is also known as Shaoxing wine or simply Shao wine. The brewery takes the natural process with the "pure" water of Jianhu-Mirror Lake. It has a unique flavour and a reputation throughout the nation and internationally. It is used both as a liquor and in cooking, and as a solvent for Chinese herbal medicated ointment. The China Shaoxing Yellow Wine Group Corporation produces 110,000 tons annually for the domestic and overseas markets.

Shaoxing Zhufu
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The Dashan Pagoda in Shaoxing
Boats in Donghu (east lake), a lake in ShaoxingDue to the long history, Shaoxing has accumulated and handed down characteristic culture: Yue Culture. As an important part of Yue Culture and a traditional folk custom of Shaoxing, Zhufu still has great influence on Shaoxing people and their life nowadays.

Zhufu, or Worshipping the God of Blessing, is also called Zuofu. It is the most prominent sacrifice ceremony in a year in Shaoxing. It dates from Yuan Dynasty, and the gods worshipped are Nan Chao Sheng Zhong and Huang Shan Xi Nan. It is said that when the government of Song Dynasty was overthrown by the Mongolian army and Song Dynasty was replaced by Yuan Dynasty, the original citizens of Song Dynasty, namely the Han people, were extremely afraid of the newly established minority political power. They secretly offered sacrifice to the emperors of South Song Dynasty and those patriotic martyrs who died to save the nation at midnight.

Nan Chao Sheng Zhong refers to a group of martyrs, who died the war of resistance against the Mongolian invasion, including the Emperor Zhao Bing, the last emperor of South Song Dynasty, Wen Tianxiang, the prime minister of South Song Dynasty, who was captured but didn't give up to the enemy and later was killed by the Yuan Government, and Lu Xiufu, a patriotic official who committed suicide together with Emperor Zhao Bing, etc. Huang Shan Xi Nan refers to two anonymous brothers who sacrificed their lives to save the civilians from being killed by the Mongolian army. In memory of the brothers, the local people named them after the place where they were killed and offered sacrifice to the portrait or statue of the brothers.

It is said that the Mongolian nobility, the ruling class of Yuan Dynasty, treated Han people harshly, and therefore, Han people created and cleverly disguised the gods: Nan Chao Sheng Zhong and Huang Shan Xi Nan to mourn for the lost nation and the patriotic martyrs and pray for their blessing. The ruling class only knew the ostensible purpose of the sacrificing ceremony held annually. That was to entertain the God of Blessing and pray for the next year's good harvest and harmony. The ceremony was handed down from generation to generation and finally it became a convention. And its political meaning gradually dimmed. It became a pure sacrificing ceremony, which was held annually to render thanks to the God of Blessing for all his blessings and pray for the next year's blessing.

Zhufu is often held during the period between December 24 and December 28, Chinese lunar calendar. Shaoxing people will firstly choose an auspicious day according to Chinese lunar calendar to hold the ceremony. It's interesting that the days in between December 20 and December 30 in Chinese lunar calendar, are called nights instead of days in Shaoxing so as to remind the homemakers that the Spring Festival is approaching and they should hurry up to prepare for Zhufu and the Spring Festival.

Before the sacrificing ceremony, Shaoxing people ought to clean up the hall, wash the sacred vessels, and kill fowls which will be offered as Fuli to the god. And they say dressing the fowls up instead of killing the fowls to avoid uttering the unlucky word: kill. The wooden sacrificing desks used in Zhufu, should be placed transversely in accordance with the grain. Usually two old Chinese square tables are enough. They are placed end to end close to the entrance door of the hall. And the main door of the house should be widely opened. Then the family members carry barrels or trays of cooked Fuli to the hall and put them on the desks one by one prescriptively. Commonly, Fuli consists of chicken, goose, and pork. But in wealthy families, it consists of chicken, goose, pork, beef and mutton. Fuli should be affixed with red paper cut into gold ingot or coins. And the chicken and goose should be cooked with their heads held high as if they are welcoming the god. The barrels or trays used to hold Fuli are often wooden and painted red. And a kitchen knife is placed beside Fuli as a table knife for the god.

Afterwards, the officiant of the ceremony, usually the man of the house, lights up the incense and red candles, hang golden and silver Taiding made of paper on left and right candleholders, put the cushions for kneeling on the ground in order, and insert Mazhang Stick, which represents Nan Chao Sheng Zhong or Huang Shan Xi Nan, into the prepared holder. The females are not allowed to show up when performing the sacrifice. After all these are done, the male members of the family successively kneel down facing the main door and knock head to the god. At that moment there are many taboos. For example, the wine should not be poured out of the cup, and the chopsticks should not fall into the ground. One had better keep silent to avoid taboos. And that's the end of worshipping.

After that, the officiant pours wine for people present. They hold the wine cup high as quickly as possible to see the god out. Then the officiant burns Mazhang Stick together with golden and silver Taiding in the dooryard. He cuts tongues down from the chicken and goose, throw them up to the housetop, and pray to the god to take away the tongues which symbolize possible calamity out of mouth. Finally, the officiant put a cup of wine with tea on the ashes of Mazhang Stick and that means the end of Zhufu. After Zhufu is ancestor worshipping. It is similar to Zhufu, though difference does exist. After the worshipping, the family sits down at the tables and eats Fuli together, which is called Sanfu, namely sharing the blessings.

As a featured folk custom, Zhufu has been handed down and well protected in Shaoxing. It is reputable because of its special origin. It is widely spread by Lu Xun. Lu Xun wrote a novel Zhufu, which was named after the sacrificing ceremony. In Zhufu, there is detailed description of Shaoxing Zhufu. Deeply moved by the ill-fated leading character of the novel, the readers meanwhile get to know about Shaoxing Zhufu.

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