Sending Great Heat boat off | Updated: 2020-07-23

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Jiazhi residents in Jiaojiang district haul the Great Heat boat to the bank of the Jiaojiang River to pray for a safe voyage and healthy body on the day of Great Heat. [Photo/WeChat account: meilitaizhou_]

Jiazhi subdistrict in Jiaojiang district, Taizhou, has a tradition of sending the Great Heat boat off on Dashu.

Dashu, literally translated as Great Heat, is one of the traditional Chinese solar terms and falls on July 23rd or 24th. It marks the start of the hottest period of the year.

There is a legend saying that local residents used to believe that it was the five gods of the plague that brought plague to Jiazhi, especially around Dashu, and therefore they established a temple for the gods in hope of warding off disease.

As there are many fishermen in Jiazhi, they would offer sacrifices to the five gods of the plague to pray for a safe voyage during Dashu before going fishing. The Great Heat boat is a vessel used to hold sacrificial offerings.

The boat is made by voluntary craftsmen who usually start making it during Slight Heat, marking the beginning of summer heat. The boat is eight meters long and two meters wide, and is painted with life buoys, masts, tables, chairs, and cannonballs.

The boat is then taken to the Five Gods of the Plague Temple to hold the offerings brought by believers.

On the day of Great Heat, the boat is then hauled by local residents to the bank of the Jiaojiang River with dragon dancers, flower drum dancers and other folk actors performing behind the boat.

When the tide ebbs, the boat floats away along the tide, carrying with it people's diseases and their best wishes.