Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ep. 265 - Legends of Taiwan

Moment in Oddity - Ballet Fans Eat Taglioni's Ballet Slippers

Marie Taglioni was one of the most famous ballerinas in the world. She was born in Sweden to Italian choreographer Filippo Taglioni. In 1822, Taglioni made her debut as a ballet dancer in Vienna and people went crazy for her. Before long, she was famous across Europe. She introduced the era of romantic ballet and launched the image of the ballerina in a long, white tutu with point shoes. Women wanted to copy her hairstyle. Her most famous role was in La Sylphide at Paris Opera, which was a ballet created by her father. The ballet was set in Scotland and featured forest fairies and witches and Taglioni wore transparent fairy wings. The ballet was so popular that La Sylphide dolls were made.  Even Queen Victoria had a La Sylphide doll. Taglioni left the Ballet of Her Majesty's Theater in 1837 and joined the Imperial Ballet in Russia. The Russians loved her and she had a huge following of balletomanes. Balletomanes were male fans of female ballerinas. Like super fans. These guys were so crazy about the ballerina that they bought her point shoes from her last performance for two hundred rubles. They had an issue though. How would the group of them be able to share the shoes and pay homage to their favorite ballerina? Now, you've probably heard of people drinking champagne from women's shoes, so you might think that perhaps they passed them around for a toast. But you would be wrong. This group of Balletomanes cut those slippers into pieces, cooked them, covered them in a special sauce and...ate them! Being so enamored by a ballerina that you eat her ballet slippers, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Thurgood Marshall Born

In the month of July, on the 2nd, in 1908, the first black man on the U.S. Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall, was born. Justice Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland and went to Howard University School of Law. In 1934, he began working for the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He began using the judiciary at this time to help get equal rights for people of color. Marshall spent much of his career arguing and winning several cases that struck down legalized racism in the lead up to the Civil Rights Movement. In 1954, he won the Brown v. Board of Education case. This case ended racial segregation in public schools. President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1967. He served for 24 years and retired in 1991. Justice Clarence Thomas replaced him.

Legends of Taiwan (Suggested by: Whitney Zahar)

The island of Taiwan is located between the Philippines and Japan, about 100 miles off the coast of China. The small island is inhabited by many people who were escaping from the mainland of China, a country that claims to be sovereign over the island. Many nations have held control over Taiwan over the years, from the Dutch to the Spanish to the Japanese to the Chinese. This is a land of indigenous groups that each seem to have their own mythical story of origin and there are many haunted locations. Join myself and listener Whitney Zahar, who lived in Taiwan for a time as we share the history, legends and haunts of Taiwan.

Immigrants from the Pacific Islands were the first to inhabit the island of Taiwan. The Chinese arrived in the 1400s and over the next hundred years, an influx of Europeans came, mainly from Portugal. It was the Portuguese that named it Ilha Formosa or "Beautiful Island"in 1517. The Dutch and Spanish followed, but by the 1660s, the Chinese had returned and ousted the Dutch. The Chinese held it for two centuries until the Japanese invaded in 1895. The island would be ceded to China after World War II. Taiwan has faced an uncertain political future from that time with China refusing to recognize it as a sovereign nation and Taiwan claiming to be an independent country.

Tigress Witch

There is a strong belief in different spirits in Taiwan and many of these spirits are considered to be gods and goddesses. Others were thought to be witches and ghosts. There was the SunGod, MoonGod, EarthGod, RockGod, TreeGod, and animal gods and goddesses. When it came to animals, there was a belief that some of them could trabsform into human form and then hunt humans in that form. A woman lived in the mountains with her two daughters. She left fortown one day and instructed her girls to lock the door and open it for no one. The two daughters did as they were instructed, but later, someone came to the door and began to knock loudly. The girls were afraid when they heard the knocking.Then they heard someone call out, "Open the door, open the door! I am your mother." The sisters moved closer to the door and said: "You are not Mama; you wouldn't be back so soon." But the person knocked harder and called out louder: "I am your Mama. l thought you would be scared, so I came back quickly to see you."

Unfortunately, the girls opened the door and saw that the person at the door was not their mother. The woman standing there had hair white as snow and her face was wrinkled like a cat. The woman claimed to be their great-aunt who hadn't visited in a long time. Never mind that she claimed to be the mother originally. The girls invited her in and led her to one of the rooms tosleep for the night. One of the sisters joined her in the room. The other girl awoke at midnight and went to check on her sister when she heard strange noises coming from the room that she was sleeping within. The sounds reminded her of someone chewing roasted peanuts or a dog chewing a bone. The sister asked the aunt what was making the noise. The aunt answered, "Oh, I am chewing some ginger roots; they are very hard, hot, and bitter, not for children to eat." The girl insisted that she get some ginger roots and the aunt tossed over a piece, which turned out to be the finger of the girl's sister. It was then that the young girl realized that they had let the Tigress Witch into their home. The girl tried to escape, but the Tigress Witch called out, "You will be my breakfast. How can I let you go; you might try to sneak away!" The girl was clever and answered, "If you don't want me to escape, why don't you tie a rope to my leg; then I will have no way to escape." The Tigress Witch tied a rope around her leg and held it while the sister went to the rest room. The smart girl took the rope off her leg and tied it to a water container and escaped out the window.

The Tigress Witch realized she had been tricked after some time had passed and she tracked the girl to a tree and proceeded to start chewing the trunk. The girl called down, "Great-aunt, you don't have to chew the tree trunk so hard. I am willing to come down to let you eat me. The only problem is that I am so hungry that if you eat me now, I will become a Hungry Ghost, and I will forever follow you and torment you. If you boil a bucket of peanut oil for me, I'll fry some birds here and eat them. When my stomach is full, you can then eat me without any worry." The Tigress Witch thought this was a very wonderful idea, so she boiled a bucket of peanut oil and sent it up to the girl. After awhile, the girl called out, "I am ready to jump down now. Open your mouth." When the Tigress Witch heard this, she opened her mouth widely, thinking that she would be eating the child. Instead, the foolish Tigress got a whole mouthful of boiling peanut oil and died.

In this story, you heard mentioned the Hungry Ghost. Stories of Hungry Ghosts are prominent in Taiwan and the people there even celebrate the Ghost Festival. In their culture, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month is observed as the Ghost Month. This is a time when ghosts and spirits arise from the lower realm. Whitney describes the celebration of the Ghost Festival.

There are at least seven well known haunted locations in Taiwan and we touch on each one. Are these locations haunted? That is for you to decide!

The Tagalong

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