tablet (ritual & belief)

Wooden ancestor tablet, with inscriptions on the front and back. This tablet would have contained the spirits of two ancestors which can be seen from the inscriptions in the central axis. On the right vertical axis is the inscription “民國處士陳公正順老大人神主, mín guó chǔ shì chén gōng zhèng shùn lǎo dà rén shén zhǔ”, which literally means this is my father’s tablet, the lofty Mr. Chén Zhèng-Shùn (陳正順), who died during the period when the Kuomintang ruled China. Next to it, the inscription “民國慈惠陳母黃氏老孺人神主, mín guó cí huì chén mǔ huáng shì lǎo rú rén shén zhǔ” can be translated as: This is my mother’s tablet, the benevolent and virtuous Mrs. Chen, maiden name Huang. The inscription “奉祀男天澤, 椿, 祿, fèng sì nán tiān zé chūn lù” on the left vertical axis literally means the tablet was offered by the deceased’s sons Tiān-Zé, Tiān-Chūn and Tiān- Lù. On the back, inside the tablet, there are two lines of inscriptions in the vertical central axis. The vertical line on the right side is the inscription “故顯考陳公正順老大人神主, gù xiǎn kǎo chén gōng zhèng shùn lǎo dà rén shén zhǔ”, which mainly means this is the tablet of the deceased father Mr. Chén Zhèng-Shùn (陳正順). While the inscription “故顯妣陳母黃氏老孺人神主, gù xiǎn bǐ chén mǔ huáng shì lǎo rú rén shén zhǔ” next to it can be translated as stating that this is the tablet of the deceased mother Ms. Chen, maiden name Huang. There are inscriptions on both edges of the tablet. The first line of the inscription “公生於道光丁未年九月初十日申時, gōng shēng yú dào guāng dīng wèi nián jiǔ yuè chū shí rì shēn shí” on the right edge indicates that the father was born between 3 pm and 5 pm on 10th of September in Dīng Wèi (丁未) year during the Dao Guang (道光) period of Qing dynasty in the Chinese lunar calendar. This corresponds to 1847 A.D. Similarly, the second line of the inscription “妣生於道光戊申年十月十六日子時, bǐ shēng yú dào guāng wù shēn nián shí yuè shí liù rì zi shí” is the time the mother was born, which was between 11 pm and 1 am on 16th of October in Wù Shēn (戊申) year during the Dao Guang (道光) period of Qing dynasty in the Chinese lunar calendar. This corresponds to 1848 A.D. On the other edge of the tablet, two vertical lines of inscriptions demonstrate the year in which they died. The inscription “公歿於民國丁巳年七月十九日亥時, gōng mò yú mín guó dīng sì nián qī yuè shí jiǔ rì hài shí” on the right means that the father died between 9 pm and 11 pm on 19th of July in Dīng Sì (丁巳) year during the period when Kuomintang ruled China. This corresponds to 1917 A.D. Then, the inscription “妣歿於道光戊申年正月初八日辰時, bǐ mò yú dào guāng wù shēn nián zhèng yuè chū bā rì chén shí” indicates that the mother died between 7am and 9am on 8th of January in Wù Shēn (戊申) year during the Dao-Guang (道光) period of Qing dynasty in the Chinese lunar calendar. This would correspond to 1848 A.D. However, the mother would not have died in the same year of her birth. It was probably a mistake made by the person who wrote the tablet.

Collection Information

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