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大樹公 (Dashu gong)
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高雄市大樹區龍安宮龍樹尊王(廖吟梅攝) 

 
大樹公是樹神的總稱,大樹公又稱樹王公、樹仔公或古聖公等等,也有以樹的種類來命名,例如榕樹公、松樹公、桂伯、茄苳公、刺桐公、檨仔公等等,在這些不同的名稱脈絡裡,公是它們的共同名字,公的意思就是老爺爺。換言之,大樹公就是對老樹的崇拜,因為民間認為樹齡長的樹裡即有樹神,必需加意敬,通常樹齡超過百歲,長數十公尺以上者皆予以祭祀。常見的情形是馬路旁、聚落裡的大樹,身上圍著一條紅布,有時樹旁還設有一座小神龕。此外,也有諸多地方的大樹公變成大型的宇,甚至是地方的信仰中心,樹神的稱號也有從「公」變成「王」的情形。
大樹公最基本的概念源於植物的崇拜,人們認為植物是有靈魂、有生命的,這是古代農業民族中常見的崇拜,因此,在古代也常見有穀神、花神等等,樹神是植物的崇拜之一。樹之所以有靈,有兩種看法,一是被神鬼所附,一是來自樹本身的長壽。這兩種看法有時會互相結合。關於樹被神鬼所附的看法,首先是和習俗有關,中國古代即流傳在死者的墳地種樹的習俗,除了作為標記,也是象徵死者的安息,樹木的榮枯是其指標。因此,這類習俗也就產生死者的靈魂附著到樹上的看法。另有一類看法是樹只是神靈的暫時棲身之地,一旦神離開了,樹也就枯萎了。在《戰國策》中即載有這樣的故事,樹的神靈讓人借走之後,五天就開始枯萎,到了第七天就死了。樹的長壽顯然來自人類本身的經驗法則,由於古代人類和自然的關係密切,人類在日常生中經由觀察對照樹和自身,很容易就能發現樹的壽命和生命力都遠超過人類。因此,樹的長壽和生命力就成為人的想望和象徵,也就成為崇拜的對象。此外,還有一類情形雖然也是相信樹有靈魂,卻是源於恐懼,這是物老成精的觀念。由於樹的枝幹繁茂,有時如同人類的身體部位,而砍樹會造成樹汁的流溢,這都使人聯想到樹的生命和人的生命之間有某種關聯,因此傷害大樹的同時可能也就傷害了樹神,將導致祂的報復。因此加以崇拜,避免冒犯以求平安。
在全台各地有許多大樹公,它們大多只是小神龕,或是與土地公結合,成為土地公的一部分。大樹公成為地方的信仰中心,或是重要宇者,據2003年統計,大約是在十座到十三座之間。這個日治時的調查結果有十座相當接近。顯然大樹公變成重要在近百年來並無太大的變化。除了近百年來土地的開發利用限縮了大樹的生存空間外,人類社會的變化使得自然崇拜不易維繫也是原因之一。然而,大樹公在臺灣的信仰中代表著長生不死、豐盛和保護,傳宗接代等等意義,則沒有多大的變化。因此,在台灣有些地方,仍有讓未滿十六歲的孩童或青少年成為大樹公的「義子」,以獲得其生命力的習俗。甚至因為核心家庭增加,小孩生養不易,這類習俗還有成長的趨勢。
 

關鍵詞:大樹公、樹王公、古聖公
 
李春子。2003.06。〈東亞地區「大樹公」信仰與實踐--臺灣、日本、韓國之比較研究〉。《臺灣文獻》54:2。頁49-96。
蘇瑞展。2006。高雄縣「大樹公」信仰之研究。國立臺南大學台灣文化研究所碩士論文。

Dashu gong (大樹公) means the god of tree. Dashu gong’s names are various. There are Shu wang gong (樹王公), Shu Zai gong (樹仔公)or Wangu shenggong (古聖公) etc. Sometimes, it was named by the species of a tree. For example, if the tree is a kind of Urostigma, rong shu (榕樹) in Chinese, it is called Rongshu gong (榕樹公). The word gong is their common title. In Chinese, it means grandfather. In other words, Dashu gong is a result of worship to old tree. The idea of Dashu gong is people thought that if a tree is old, there must a spirit dwells in it. People should respect and worship the tree. If a tree is over hundred years old and its height is about tens meters. It will be a Dashu gong. In Taiwan, it is easy to locate Dashu gong. If a tree is rounded with a red cloth strip and a small shrine is by its side, it must be a Dashu gong. Occassionally, there are few Dashu gong becoming the main local temples. At that time, its title will be changed to wang (王), the king.
Dashu gong originated from the worship of plants. Ancient people believed that the plants are living like . There are spirits in them. That is the same reason why there was also the god of grain and the god of flower. They are two explaninations of the old trees having spirits. One is they are possessed by spirits. Another is they are long life.
Chinese believed that the old trees maybe possessed by spirits because of ancient custom. The custom was when a dead was buried, the living often plant a tree by ones grave. The tree is not only a mark of the grave but also an index of the dead’s situation. If the tree were withered, the dead was not well in another world. It supposes that this idea is extended as a spirit possessing a tree. Anoth idea about the tree being possessed is that a tree is a temporary dwelling place of spirit. Once the dwelling spirit of a tree left, the tree will be withered in five days and was totally finised in seven days.
It is easy that humen found a tree’s life is longer than them. Especially ancient people were more closed to natural world than us. By daily life, they could realize easily that the tree is fertile and durable. Then the trees became a symbol of long life and fertility. Worshiping to old tree was a result.
One more reson of worship to old tree is fear. When a tree is old enough, its branches sometimes is like a human hand or other part of body. People cut a tree’s branced or trunk will make it bled sap out. Those image and response will make human associate an old tree with human ourselves. Human was afraid of if a tree would take a revenge on their hurt and lose in case of hurting an old tree. Namely, worshiping to an old tree is a safe strategy.
Dashu gong is almost everywhere in Taiwan. Most of them are a small shrine or with a small tablet. Then they would not be recorded. Only few of them became the main local temples and be recorded. It is estimated that there are ten to thirteen Dashu gong’s temples recorded in 2003. Comparing to the investigation in the end of 1800s, when Japanese regind Taiwan. The number is ten. Aooarently, the number of temples dedictated to Dashu gong is not increasing too many. However, a custom in relation of Dashu gong is growing up. The custom is parents let their children and teenager under sixteen become Dashu gong’s foster son by ritual. The custom increasing maybe is the result of the nuclear family’s number is increasing and raising a child be not easy task in Taiwan. The hard parents want to get blessing and vitality from Dashu gong.
 
Keywords: Dashu gong (大樹公), shu wang gong, Shu Zai gong, angu shenggong, the god of tree
 
References:
  1. 李春子。2003.06。〈東亞地區「大樹公」信仰與實踐--臺灣、日本、韓國之比較研究〉。《臺灣文獻》54:2。頁49-96。
  2. 蘇瑞展。2006。高雄縣「大樹公」信仰之研究。國立臺南大學台灣文化研究所碩士論文。
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