For South Central China’s canines, birthplace is a matter of mortal consequence. While the infamous yearly slaughter of dogs for an annual summer solstice fete in Guangxi has long incensed animal welfare activists, in neighboring Guizhou province, man’s best friend features in a more dignified summer tradition — taigoujie (抬狗节), the “dog-lifting festival.”
Every year in Guizhou’s Jianhe county, one chosen pup dons a velvet cap, bespoke jacket and silver medallion, and in true pharaonic style is paraded around in a tiny throne carried on the backs of local villagers.
For the Miao ethnic group, it’s a show of deference to the animal that, according to local legend, led their ancestors to a sacred spring, enabling them to settle in a region where water is otherwise scarce. As the procession winds through the village fields, and the canine of the hour surveys its kingdom, its loyal subjects sling mud at one another and pray for a good harvest.
The ritual celebrates the equality of all living beings, though one would never know it from the regal pup’s uncanny Queen Elizabeth II impression.
By Henry Knight
[Images via NetEase // Video via SCMP]
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat