My Dad was inspired by a dream to look out this book, which I hadn’t seen since I was a child until this week. Handwritten by my great-grandfather, It is full of Taoist talismans thought to protect against illness and evil spirits.
I took an interest in them as a child after I saw the Hong Kong film which spawned the horror-comedy genre: Mr Vampire. Starring Lam Ching-Ying, one of the finest martial artists who ever worked in Hong Kong cinema, as a Taoist priest who hunts vampires and other evil demons with the assistance of his bumbling apprentices, it is one of my favourite films, as much for what it meant to me as a child as anything else. It’s a shame that Lam found himself typecast in the role, and played variations of it until his death in 1997. In the first scene of this clip, compiled from various parts of Lam’s career, amulets of this kind can be seen hanging from the walls. When I was a child, I used to copy them out from this same book and pretend to be a Taoist priest.
I’ve always quite like the idea of getting a tattoo but, rather than take that as a premise and decide what to have tattooed on me, I always said that I’d wait until something came along that I thought I must have. And if I ever do get one, I might consider one of these: while I may not believe in their supernatural powers, they have meaning, and are things of incredible beauty, especially in the graceful and detailed calligraphy of my great-grandfather.
Tagged: , Old , Book , Worn , Handwritten , Hand , Written , Ink , Chinese , Calligraphy , Taoist , Talismans , Amulets , Incantations , Religious , Religion , Superstition , Spiritual , Lam , Ching , Ying , Mr , Vampire , Ayr , 3059