Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage

    Pak Tai Celebrations





    Introduction:

    Pak Tai, originally known as Great Emperor Xuanwu, is also referred to as Dark Heavenly Highest Deity, Great Emperor Zhenwu and Black Emperor. It is a deity in Taoist belief who is regarded as the protector of the north and revered by people as a sea deity, being very popular in the coastal areas of southern China. The belief in Pak Tai is long established in Macao. The Pak Tai Temple in Taipa is the largest and was built by the residents of Taipa to worship Pak Tai and to pray for good weather, disaster prevention , solutions for difficulties, and to withstand floods and fires. The Pak Tai Celebrations take place on the 3rd day of the third lunar month every year, and they are a grand occasion, especially taking place in Taipa, where there are large-scale celebrations, including Cantonese opera performances for deities, noting that this is one of the most important festivities for the community of this area.

     

    Conservation Status:

    Among all of the temples dedicated to Pak Tai, the Pak Tai Temple in Taipa is the largest, also being the one that is responsible for hosting the most relevant  event for these celebrations. During the Pak Tai Celebrations every year, there are a series of celebrations that are organized by the residents of Taipa, including a ceremony of ribbon cutting, incense burning, praying for blessings, offering rituals, including roasted piglet offerings and making decorations (hanging flowers and a red cloth), as well as dragon and lion dances, parades, the so-called “Choy Cheng” (plucking the greens), Poon Choi banquets(a traditional feast in which the dish is served in a big wooden basin at each table) and Cantonese opera performances for Deities. In addition, temple fairs are also organized in front of the temple, enabling the inhabitants of Taipa to socialize and renew their bonds with family members and friends.

     

    Heritage Value:

    The Pak Tai Celebrations are an important traditional event of the beliefs and customs of Pak Tai, also being representative of the transmission and continuity of traditional Chinese folk culture in Macao. The customs integrate local characteristics and constitute an element that is also significant for the study of local folk culture.


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