Puxi Ancient City's historic commemoration: climbing the knife ladder

By HU MEIDONG in Fuzhou | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-03-01 15:24
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To celebrate the Lantern Festival, climbers scale a ladder made of knives and scattered copper coins on Feb 28, 2024 in Puxi Ancient City, Putian, Fujian province. [Photo by Guo Jinyu/For chinadaily.com.cn]

To celebrate the Lantern Festival, climbers scaled a ladder made of knives and scattered copper coins on Wednesday in Puxi Ancient City, Putian, Fujian province.

Climbing a ladder of knives is a traditional Lantern Festival custom in Puxi Ancient City, dating back over 500 years. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Puxi Ancient City was once besieged by Japanese pirates. Brave warriors climbed a sky ladder to defend the ancient city. Over time, the ladder-climbing tradition was created to commemorate the heroes.

On the 19th day of the first lunar month, Puxi Ancient City holds a grand Lantern Festival temple fair. People march in a square formation carrying palanquins made of palm wood. Onlookers follow in the footsteps of the generals of the past, advancing accompanied by the rapid beating of drums.

After the procession, the warriors climb a ladder of knives barefoot and shirtless. The knife ladder stands in front of the City God Temple in Puxi Ancient City, towering at 17 meters high. Each ladder step is guarded by a pair of divine couplets, escorting the warriors straight to the heavens.

After reaching the top, the warriors receive blessings from the heavens and then untie copper coins strung on the ladder and scatter them among the spectators. According to tradition, wearing a red-stringed necklace of copper coins can ensure safety and peace for a year. People eagerly collect the coins, sharing the joy and blessings of safety and happiness.

Yang Zishuo contributed to this story.

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