The photos in the exhibition were all taken during the summer of l985, at visits to temples for the birthday of Tin Hau by Professor Janet Lee Scott. The object of these visits was to document the activities, with special emphases on the patterns of worship and on the design of Flower Cannons. Professor Scott and her group of assistants went out to Tai Po Market, Yau Ma Tei, So Ku Wan, Tap Mun and Luk Chau, and they spent entire days recording and shooting the celebrations.
Biography of Professor Janet Lee Scott
Janet Lee Scott completed her MA and PhD in anthropology at Cornell University. In Hong Kong, she has conducted research on women's participation in Mutual Aid Committees, and on ritual paper offerings, the latter supported by an Earmarked Grant for Research given by the (then entitled) University and Polytechnics Grants Committee, and from faculty research grants from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University.She has taught anthropology at the Chinese University, and sociology and anthropology at Hong Kong Baptist University, and now serves as a Museum Expert Adviser (Ethnography/ Intangible Cultural Heritage Panel) to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR. She is currently an Associate in Research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.
A short story about Professor Scott's research interest in Tin Hau
Professor Scott said,"From my first research period in Hong Kong (from 1976 to 1978), I have been interested in the material culture of everyday life. While research during this first visit was devoted to Mutual Aid Committees, I was attracted to the contents of the paper offering shops encountered while interviewing in the housing estates and began going into these shops and admiring (and collecting) the items inside. So, after I had returned to Hong Kong and had completed a series of early studies on paper offerings (Pinwheels and Golden Flowers), I became interested in the offerings for Tin Hau and decided to observe some of the birthday celebrations held in her honor in the summer of 1985. The photos of worshippers and temple activities were taken at this time, complemented by a preliminary collection of offerings, and I also took a series of photos of one Flower Cannon Association in Tai Po." "Further research on paper offerings was delayed until the late 1980s, when I received the UPGC-funded Earmarked Grant for Research for a more comprehensive study of the repertoire of paper offerings in use in Hong Kong. Continued study of these lovely items, combined with interviews of craftsmen at pitched paper workshops, renewed an interest in flower cannons (fa pau), the most spectacular of pitched paper offerings and an object of great significance to Tin Hau.""After this project ended, I had amassed a huge collection of paper offerings and accompanying interviews, some of which complemented the photos taken in the summer of l985. While I have not conducted any studies on the Flower Cannon Associations and their practices (other scholars have been involved in such research), I have collected material sufficient for work on the material culture of the worship of Tin Hau. The collection of photos here presented is the result of these combined investigations."