Being (Culturally) Chinese
Sep 29, 2019
HK art embraces our roots - traditions are proudly invoked as if to say our fight is not abt a rejection of being Chinese, but a fight for acceptance of an identity that's culturally Chinese, but also distinctly HK.
There’s the heavy HK funereal imagery since start of the protests. This was inevitable: 送中 (extradition to China) sounds like 送終 (attend to the dying), while Lam's maiden name 鄭 looks close to 奠 (libation to the dead). I know, the gods aren't subtle 😂
The gods aren't subtle bcos they're angry. Wong Tai Sin (in blue), Guan Yu (depicted as red-faced) & Che Gung (w/ pinwheel) all saw temples affected by tg, so here they are, commiserating & mad. Note Guan Yu is also the patron saint of HKPF - our art says he's switching sides.
There's also lots of protest art that refs our fortune-telling 'lottery poems' found in temples (the top two) and traditional talismans (the bottom two), which you stick on vampires to ward off evil... and now I can't unsee the mental image of Lam et al as Chinese vampires.
Cantonese opera also makes an appearance in the art. In one, Lam & others are shown as playacting. In the other, actors get teargassed. Notable is that despite what HK Tourism Board says, this isn't 'Chinese' opera - it's Canto, distinct from Beijing or Shanghai styles.
Hungry Ghost Festival was in Aug which led to some creative protesting. Traditionally, we burn joss paper for the dead. Bcos religious gatherings are still allowed w/ no permit, many HKers decided to go on streets & burn offerings, preferably with Lam & others' face on them .
Mid-Autumn Festival in Sep saw HKers celebrate and rebel in new ways. Our lanterns were hardhats or covered in the mvmt's slogans of '5 demands', etc. Our lantern riddles were all protest-themed - one asks for 'HK's song', the other 'Weapon of the stars.'
The Festival's mooncake also got co-opted. Bakeries made pastries emblazoned with 'Add Oil!' etc. Note this is not just an embrace of culture, but of history - as @jeannette_ng has pointed out, Yuan revolutionaries used to hide messages inside these cakes to avoid arrests...
Our art uses Chinese culture to protest Chinese politics. Far from being ppl who refuse to be Chinese, we brave teargas & arrest to carry out traditions. HKers are saying we may be culturally Chinese, but that doesn't mean our political & national identities must also be so.
Update, Nov 29, 2019
It's not just posters & food where HKers have embraced Chinese culture. There's also... this. Just watch it.