Walking through Causeway Bay and Wanchai, you may be startled to hear the loud ‘thwack’ of a shoe…stop to listen and you will hear it over and over again. If you’re curious enough to investigate, just under the Canal Road flyover, you will see a couple of old ladies repeatedly hitting their shoes against a brick. Confused? Let us explain!
The art of ‘villain hitting,’ known as da siu yan in Cantonese, is an old ritual generally practised in Hong Kong and Guangdong. The tradition is believed to come from ancient agricultural traditions, where villagers used to hold an annual ceremony to scare away the ‘White Tiger’ who would destroy their crops and harm the village. As time went on, this tiger eventually morphed into the more general ‘villain.’
The ritual is believed to be a way to ‘curse’ your enemies, bringing them bad luck and misfortune after they have been ‘hit.’ If there is someone you want to ‘curse,’ all you need to do is get a photo of them or write their name on a piece of paper, then begin hitting it with a shoe whilst reciting chants such as “beat your little head (打你個小人頭), your work will never go ahead (打到你成世冇出頭),”
Hong Kong’s ‘villain hitters’ are a group of unassuming elderly women where a group of them squat on stools in front of numerous incense laden shrines, with their slippers in hand. From businessmen who have an issue with their bosses, to scorned wives wanting to curse a husband’s mistress, to students wanting to perform well in exams - people from all walks of life come to visit these ‘villain hitters.’ It’s become so popular that Time Magazine’s “Best of Asia'' feature listed it as its “Best Way to Get It Off Your Chest” item.
For anywhere between 50 HKD to 500 HKD, you can have these old ladies beat away your enemies or worst fears, whilst bringing you good luck. The process has a few steps to it, including presenting an offering to the deities, lighting incense and worshipping at the altars.
Even if you don’t have a sworn enemy, you can still experience villain hitting. All you have to do is head over to the Canal Road flyover—from there you can marvel at this ancient ritual for however long you like.
*This article is brought to you by Capture HK.
Capture HK is the premier analogue media digitisation company in Hong Kong.
Capture HK's business covers photographs, photo album digitisation, videotapes digitisation, including VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS-C Hi-8, Video8, Digital8, DV, DVCAM, MiniDV, DVC and digital media digitisation, including Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media (SM), MultiMediaCard (MMC) Compact Flash (CF), xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick, USB Drive, CDROM, DVD.