Shigandang, also called Mt. Tai Shigandang, originates from Mt. Tai and is elected into the first national non-material cultural heritage list. The shigandang custom is derived from people’s worship for laboring tools and experience and is now deeply rooted in the folk cultures.
According to legends, Shigandang was a brave man living in Mt. Tai and he was often invited by local people to exorcise the evil spirits. His stories spread so far that people would inscribe his name on a stone and put it on the wall or the gate when they built new houses in order to keep the evil spirits away.
The custom shigandang originated from the practice of divine stone worship in ancient times, and went through the burgeoning stage, the change stage, and the flourishing stage successively. After the Ming Dynasty, the belief of shigandang was closely connected with worship of Taishan Mountain. From shigandang to Taishan shigandang, roles of the stone tablets (or stone figurines) also changed from “protecting one’s residence against evil spirits” to “eliminating evil spirits” and then to “curing illnesses”, “acting as door-gods”, “exorcising evil spirits”, “resisting wind”, etc. In the historical evolution of this custom, fairy tales related to it were also adapted into multiple versions in various places.
The Mt. Tai Shigandang Cultural Festival
The Mt. Tai Shigandang cultural festival was started in 2011 and is now an important part of the Mt. Tai international climbing festival. Many activities are held that are centered on the theme of Shigandang during the festival. Currently it has become a new brand for the Mt. Tai praying tourism and a highlight for the Mt. Tai international climbing festival.
Shigandang custom exists wherever there are Chinese people. To worship Shigangdang is to worship our Chinese nation, as it is a symbol of our Chinese nation which is of integrity, justice and morality.
Mt. Tai Shigandang appears in many Chinese architectures. Its essence of exorcising evil spirits and praying for peace has become another bond that unites the Chinese people.
Tips: The Mt. Tai Shigangdang cultural festival is held during the Mt. Tai international climbing festival from 6 to 12 of September each year.