Civilization of man originates from the use of resources, gifted by our mother Earth; thus, a stable and abundant landscape is a basis of survival. To fulfill the desire and hope to dominate nature, people have been worshiping Gods of mountain and land for their blessings and protection.
In villages of Northern Lantau, with harsh living environments and inaccessibility to education, villagers have created their own unique and vernacular way of ritual devotion, through worshiping oval-shaped and triangular stones collected in the landscape. In particular, triangular stone resembles the shape and robustness of a mountain, which is therefore recognized as the image of the God of mountain.
In Sha Lo Wan, a well-crafted altar is built in front of villages houses. Different from the other altars in Northern Lantau, villagers are substituting stones with coral, which signifies the inseparable relationship between villages and the sea. With over 300-year of history, this altar had witnessed the occupation of pirates in the 1930s.
Just a few-minutes walk from the altar, a set of Tun Fu can be found next to the gatehouse of Sha Lo Wan. Tun Fu (躉符) is a common vernacular ritual in South China. Villagers believe that Feng Shui would be adversely impacted during construction work and would even startle the Dragon King which may bring turmoil to families. Therefore, Tun Fu is constructed for reconciling any malignant deity, and wishing for peace.
Villagers in Sha Lo Wan have established a strong and unique set of ritual practice. During our way out to the pier, we have encountered an old lady walking to Pa Kong Ancient Temple for worshiping Hung Shing Ye (洪聖爺). Despite her back-pain, ritual practices have been a routine which is melded with her daily life. It has been an indigenous identity embedded in villagers’ life and has certainly enriched villagers’ sense of belonging to Sha Lo Wan. Such intangible value of the village is often unspoken, but once it is revealed, it can definitely show the unity between the people, the environment and the Gods in this village.