06 November 2008

Chinese Number Taboos are Often Local

This is from my friend LI Wan, who translated this in to English for a friend of hers.
Taboo, belonging to the category of folk culture, is a cultural phenomenon. China is a multi-ethnic country, and different nations have different totems and taboos. Taboo is the source of moral and civilization. All the Chinese people have regarded long as a totem and worshiped long all the time. When Spring Festival or other Festivals come, people in almost all areas of china will give an performance of dragon dance. In Dragon Boat Festival people will have a dragon-boat race, which reflects the nation's positive and never-give-up spirit.
  1. There are many taboos in Changsha where mainly inhabit Han nationality Just as westerners view the number of 13 as a taboo, we think of the goods priced at 33, 36, 7, 94, 250, etc. as taboos.

  2. Buying a house on the 18th floor is a taboo, because according to Buddhism, there is a saying like driving into the 18 floors of hell, so the land agent usually set a lower price at the 18th floor.

  3. We like 8, 9 to be a number’s ending, and do not prefer the ending is 3, 4, because in china the pronunciation of 8 is the same as “Facai” which refers to making a pile,and 9 means everlasting, but 3 sounds like “Sanhuo” which means separating, and 4 sounds the same as “Si” which is an equivalent of death. In Changsha it is a taboo for 7 persons to be at table together, it is more preferable for 8 , 10 or 12 persons to have dinner together.

  4. Azaleas (Rhododendron),the city flower of Changsha City, is a taboo to be used as a gift as well as chrysanthemum. Now it is the golden autumn of chrysanthemums blooming, but we'd better not send chrysanthemum to other people. Otherwise,you will find your well-intentioned behavior only arouses anger, because Chrysanthemum is always used to mourn the dead.

  5. It is a taboo to present an umbrella or a fan as a gift to friends, because the pronunciations of fan and umbrella are similar to “Sanhuo”. There are also some taboos for young people when they fall in love. It is not necessarily for men to send rose to express their love. Sending some willow branches or a handkerchief may be more effective in some places. Because in China there is a wonderful legend about sending willow branches, as for the handkerchief, it means that it is made of the horizontal and vertical silk threads and silk sounds like “Sinian” which refers to missing.
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