Shito gong(石頭公) , the Duke of Stone, is also called Shi jiangjun (石將軍, General of Stone), Shi shenggong(石聖公, the Holly Duke of Stone), or Shi fogong(石佛公, the Buddhist Duke of Stone). If the female deity is included, the Shito Nian-Nian(石頭娘娘, Lady Stone), should be added. The last name of duke is because he or she was a stone. The Duke, General, Mother is their title. In other words, Duke of Stone is a representation of stone worship. Regarding to anthropologist understanding, the stone worship is a practice of animism. An idea regards everything in the nature with spirit.
Duke of Stone is not only about nature but also ancient. Ancient Chinese established a stone as a mark of the Earth Deity. An record kept in The Lü shih ch'un ch'iu
(呂氏春秋), it is said that people of the Ying(殷) kingdom established a stone enshrines the Deity of She(社). In Taiwan, the folklore is still kept elsewhere. Besides, stone is also related to fertilize legend. In a story like history, it is said that Yu the Great(大禹)’ mother was becoming pregnant from a stone. Then the stone was be enshrined by her. People also believed a stone is maybe spiritual. The famous classical novel, Dream of the Red Chamber(紅樓夢》, is related to a spiritual stone, so the origin title is the Story of Stone(石頭記). The beginning of the novel is a stone left by Nuwa(女媧) after she finished her makeup of heaven. Then the stone incarnated as the character Jia Baoyu and the story beginning. Summarily, the Duke of Stone is based on a deep cultural circumstance.
The key factor of the Duke of Stone is why some stone was selected by people among variant stones. Regarding to scholar You Qian(游謙)’s analyze based on a field research in Taiwan, there are four reasons why a stone is worshiped. The first is the location of a stone. A stone could be worshiped by people because of the location of stone, a mine gate as an example. Miners pray to it for traffic and work safety. The second is the color and the shape of stone. A stone’s color is apparently different from the circumstance or shape is like human, divinity figure. Third, a miracle is occurred. In Yilan(宜蘭), a stone was said to kept in same place after being moved times. In Nantou(南投), some kids praying to a stone as playing, one of them was possessed. Finally, all the stone in the case became Shito gong. The fourth, it is linked with Linga worship. However, the case is rare Taiwan. For pragrent or children’s healthy which are the case’s transformations are more common.
Shito gong is major located in rural area and the suburban districts which are near a mountain or a hill. In Taipei basin, there are still some shrines dedicated to Shito gong. For example, Nehu(內湖), Sanxia(三峽), and Muza(木柵) are included. It is estimated there are thousands of shrines dedicated to Shito gong in Taiwan. There are many famous of blessing pregnancy of women and healthy of kids. However, there are some new flourishing shrines because of gambling practice. When one is failing on a prophecy, the shrine is waste.
Shito gong, the Duke of Stone, animism